Head in the Clouds (2004) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
67 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
8/10
World War II from the European View
gradyharp27 March 2006
Writer and Director John Duigan has added to his cinematic stature with this recent film about the interrelated responses of three countries - England, France, Spain - to the early phases of WW II and in doing so gives some inadvertent insight into how the continent was so endangered by the little known bad boy Hitler in the years leading up to the horror of a second World War.

The title seems very appropriate - taken from the quip of 'Head in the clouds, Feet on the ground' - as the lead character Gilda (a radiantly beautiful Charlize Theron) seems to float above all of the reality of warring struggles in 1933, focusing her life on paramours, expensive clothes, and 'dangerous liaisons' with a varied assortment of men, all the while keeping a firm stance on needs of her strangely disjointed life. Indeed, the opening of the film finds Gilda in need of shelter from a night's fling with a Cambridge lover and she knocks on the door of a poor struggling Irish student Guy (Stuart Townsend), thus beginning a lasting affair that coasts through the entire story.

Guy eventually follows Gilda to Paris where she is a popular photographer living with her gallerist, but also living with her lesbian lover Mia (Penelope Cruz). Gilda, Guy, and Mia become a triptych and it is only the impact of the rise of fascism in Spain (Mia's home) that separates the ménage a trois: idealistic Guy and compassionate Mia are off to fight Franco while Gilda is left behind to admit to the encroaching threat of Nazis in France and enter into her own version of involvement.

How these three weather the war and resolve their varied degrees of complicity provides the film's finale. The cast is strong, the settings are gorgeous (in all three countries) as captured by cinematographer Paul Sarossy, and the musical score by Terry Frewer introduces a potential talent for film composition (while borrowing heavily from French cabaret songs, symphonic music by Edward Elgar, and pieces of Francis Poulenc). But the overall reason for enjoying this rather long film is the interplay of Theron, Townsend and Cruz in a variety of richly sensuous vignettes. Well worth watching. Grady Harp
47 out of 53 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
9/10
A Major Movie - A Must See - How did I not hear of it?
bgc-49 July 2006
Given the wonderful quality of Head In The Clouds I don't know how I never heard of it until I stumbled over it on the Netflix web page and decided to rent it.

This is a major movie. It is an emotionally powerful movie. It has a huge scope both in time and space, historical accuracy, an excellent, and at times complex, script, outstanding performances by all concerned, great direction, and superb cinematography. I loved it and I cried at the end.

Charlize Theron was fantastic as Gilda. I have known people such as the character she played and she had it just right. With her body language she told us she was rich, talented, cynical, very loyal to her real friends, and in the end so very brave. Her voice is such that sometimes I think she is channeling Theresa Russell.

Stuart Townsend played his part of a quiet underclass Belfast Irishman, Guy, perfectly. Some reviewers were disappointed that his performance wasn't stronger. Hey, Rambo wouldn't have survived long as a British operative in Nazi occupied Paris. Townsend triumphs in subtlety and his character narrates some of the story.

Penelope Cruz was perfect as Mia, who had been physically injured by Fascists in Spain when they came to take her brother away, presumably to be executed given that the time immediately preceded the Spanish Civil War of the 1930's.

Thomas Kretschmann is brilliant as Frans Bietrich, the personification of Nazi evil: educated, urbane, thoughtful, and completely ruthless when torturing and murdering.

The repartee among the three friends, Gilda, Mia, and Guy, during the prewar period is very realistic. I've participated in similar conversations. There are several back referencing jokes. You have to pay attention. In addition we see the best presentation of a three way sexual relationship I've ever seen on film. These three people love each other and this is beautifully communicated.

World War II was a cataclysm that shook the world. The free peoples were fighting for the life of their civilizations against what was one of the most evil regimes to ever exist through all of history, the German Third Reich. The story starts well before WWII and we are shown the good life of a wealthy young woman and her friends in Paris. We are then taken to the Spanish Civil War and on into WWII. The things portrayed in this movie HAPPENED although maybe not exactly as in the story shown; however, similar things are well documented as occurring during WWII. If one doesn't have much knowledge of the history of that period the story may seem far fetched. It isn't. For all I know the story is factual even though there is the usual statement at the end about it all being fiction.

More about Kretschmann: Toward the end of the movie there is a scene in which his character is supervising the torture of a young woman member of the French Resistance. The torturers are using the near drowning method, waterboarding is what the CIA calls it today. He is seated with his back to his underlings and gives the order to immerse her, then plays with a loose thread on his shirt cuff while timing the immersion. He fiddles with his cuff links. He is clearly bored. Just another day at the office. When he decides she isn't going to talk he gives the order to put her under and and never orders her to be raised. I have heard it phrased: "The banality of evil". Kretschmann and Duigan bring it off to perfection.

This is a must see movie. It will stick with you. Parts of it will come back to haunt you for at least several days. As I said before, this is powerful stuff.
29 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
9/10
Sexy and stylish!
Kristine14 February 2005
5.5?! I cannot believe some of the reviews on this movie. I really thought that "Head in the Clouds" was a great movie. It has accurate history, remarkable acting, very cool costumes, and a interesting story. Charlize and Stuart are in their second film together and bring so much excitement to the screen. Penelope Cruz does great as the supporting role as well. I would highly recommend this movie for a good watch. Please, do not base this movie on the rating from IMDb. I'm telling you right now, this and "Casino" are the ratings I'm really disagreeing with. They deserve higher, especially "Head in the Clouds". Give this movie a chance, you won't regret it.

9/10
102 out of 136 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
10/10
WWII epic involving three friends
dianeoban-118 November 2005
This is an absolutely top-rate film, and it's a crime it only has two stars. This finely done epic is perfect in every detail - concept, acting, direction, editing, sound, music, set decoration, costume design and everything else. It is also a crime that Sony didn't get behind it. This is an Academy Award level film that was thrown in the trash by Sony and it's distributors. I can do nothing but complain about the state of the entire American film industry when crappy remakes are pushed to the hilt, and drops of golden genius like this are ignored. Of course, the studio couldn't think of a "franchise" to make out of it, and there are no action figures to push. How long with audiences put up with the junk being pushed down our throats, remake after remake? Well, if recent box office is any judge, the public is getting wise. The studios, of course, are clueless.
42 out of 55 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
6/10
deserved a better finale...
wrlj216 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
There are some movies that end "badly" for good reasons. Realism, logic and storyline symmetry are a few justifications for "unhappy" endings. There are many more, which can cause even the most dedicated devotee of positive endings to concede the necessity of the screenwriter's choice. For me, there are few things more frustrating than a film which ends on a tragic note unnecessarily and in apparent contravention of the entire theme of the movie. Duigan wrote a heroin who was assertive, headstrong and outspoken. She was sufficiently strong, principled, smart and courageous to exact physical revenge on a man who abused her friend, and to perform competently as an espionage agent through the German occupation of Paris. Yet when a few brief words informing the French patriots of her position as a British spy and providing them with the sources necessary to confirm that information would have saved her life, the screenwriter would have us believe she sat mute and accepted the coup de gras silently. Give me a break. I can think of no good reason why this film ended poorly, other than the author was a literary masochist or a Shakespeare tragedy wannawriter. If it had ended the way it should have, I would rate it a 7.5. In its present form, it barely deserves a six.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
10/10
Tremendous One
anariko_san11 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The Head in Clouds, is I can say tremendous movie, perfect one, two even four thumbs up. Since i watched this movie I'm in deep impression, I've cried three days after watching it. The crew is perfect, the perfect three, Charlize, Penelope and Stuart made this movie unbeatable hit. If I would be in a judge rewarding Oscar i would give it out without any doubt, not only as a best movie to all three actors. Head in clouds is life story, and I believe it's a true life story, it must happened before and now screened. I've payed attention on every single moment at every single episode of this movie, and it was great, but one thing make me feel bad, the last moment when she been killed by french partisans. Actually I didn't want her to be killed, at least someone should warn'em that she do all these for her country she lies under Nazi officer for her country's future, part of sacrifice herself, but destiny. Maybe she gone far further that no one could believe in this. So all these above about what real life consist of, Love, pain, honour, patriotism, loss and severe use of Destiny. Thanks to Charlize, thanks to Penelope, thanks to Stuart and Thanks to John Duigan.
24 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
5/10
Too much and not enough
Dane (dane11)13 January 2009
I'll keep this simple -- this movie could have been great, but it wanted to be too much. It wanted to be epic, it wanted to be about friends and it wanted to be an anti-war movie and on top of that, it wanted to be about WWII and the underground work. I wanted to like this movie and while it's not impossible to watch, it is slow and plodding some times. This is a movie that really could have hit the audience hard, but it just kind of laid there instead.

We go through a long, long development of the relationship between the two main characters Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend. This could have been story enough, but no, we have to follow them over a 10 or 15 year period and go all the way through WWII. Early on, we are introduced to Penelope Cruz who is a good friend to Theron's character. And from this we kind of slip into a pseudo-three-way that never fully develops. Then there is the Spanish Civil War that Cruz's character feels she must partake in as well as Townsend. Again, this could have been an interesting story all on its own. Finally, we get into WWII and it drags on and on and I started to lose interest in the characters and the story.

It's all just too much of a BIG story and, at the same time, not enough of a story to really hold our interest. The actors were okay, though sometimes I felt like Theron was just reading her lines. Townsend, for the most part fits the role, but other times he comes across as too modern for the time period.

There are a few twists and turns here that keep the viewer interested, but overall, its not as good as it could have been. A shorter version, about one of the many story lines could make this a really, really good film.
11 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
9/10
Although rather stylized, a really good story.
rogermanning9955 December 2005
Charlize is terrific. And as if that wasn't enough, there's Penelope too! The story addresses many aspects of the times and places in which it takes place, particularly nazi occupied Paris. Themes of sexuality, expanded definitions of relationships between lovers, loyalty, duty to humanity, futility of war, art, decadence...

The big question it poses is when is it time for an individual recognize the horror taking place in their world and to put aside their personal comfort and sacrifice themselves in resistance to a greater evil? One living in the world's current superpower might be asking themselves such a thing these days.
21 out of 30 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
6/10
Good performances, but story suspect
David Carstensen17 September 2004
Charlize dominates this film not only because of her bathtub scene, but because she turns in the best performance of all the actors. This part provides a needed relief from the part that she had in "Monster" and shows her to be a truly beautiful woman.

Personally, I feel that Stuart Townsend is in over his head in trying to be the man that captivates the debutante of France as played by Miss Theron. He plays the part well but seems to be miscast in a role that needs a man that is stronger physically as well as mentally.

Penelope Cruz is outstanding as the lame Spanish beauty. She provides a excellent performance as the stereotypical cripple with a golden heart as she uses her earnings as a model to become a nurse.

The story provides little, if any, inspiration and needs a stronger hand at the screen writing duties.

I was well entertained by this movie and thought the total effect was to keep me interested although it did become predictable in some spots. Perhaps my rating of 7 is partly because I thought that Charlize should have held out for a stronger screenplay for her next movie.
49 out of 82 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
9/10
A real surprise!
Gert9 March 2006
Yes, I did just rank this movie at a 9. This is an Unusual high rank by my standards, yet I do think this one deserves it.

A movie that portrays the life of 2 young people and a lot of others surrounding them. World war 2 is coming at the start and ends with the movie. A romantic setting. This movie is classified as Drama, Romance, War and it really had me scared when I put it on. I'm not the type for those things apart, let alone compressed together in about two hours.

I was surprised. Very pleasantly surprised. It turned out to be a thrilling life story, filled with Eros (I should have known when I saw the R rating..) and adventure. It didn't fall into the usual overly sweet scenes that leave you with a sugar mouth no water can ever remedy. Instead it kept up a flirtatious pace all along, with dramatic events to eventually come to the bittersweet picture this turned out to be. Another part I cant deny loving was the end. I wont say anything more about it, but it was a good end to the movie. And I'll leave it at that :)

I never realized that Charlize Theron was that attractive and the team with Penelope Cruz (forgive me any mistakes in spelling or names) was a match made in heaven. No complaints about Stuart Townsend either. ... This is beginning to sound a bit too positive but .. Yeah, well, I'm not going to look for negative stuff just to have it in.

In the end, this movie left me with a feeling I like. Not the typical heart-bleed I get from those Sugarbom Romantic flicks, and not the sad feeling a drama usually burdens me with either. A pleasant feeling. (pleasant doesn't mean happy mind you) It has me missing my girlfriend although she s only gone for the day. And gives me an ever stronger feeling that I love her than I usually have. This movie really did give me a Pleasant feeling! :) maybe bittersweet is the exact description for it.

Anyhow, i'm really glad I saw this one and it deserves a Nine. well, in my humble opinion it does :)
23 out of 36 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
6/10
Romantic epic wannabe
George Parker27 January 2005
"Head in the Clouds", set in Paris (circa 1920's-1940's), is all about a trio of three characters; two women and one man. The centerpiece of the trio and the film is Theron as an independent, capricious, liberal and free spirited women who is in love with both her male and female part-time companions (Townsend & Cruz) who, in turn, both love her. The film follows the ebb and flow of the trio's relationships from their good times before the Spanish civil war through their bad times during WWII. An attempt at a sort of romantic epic, "Head in the Clouds" is wrought with staginess, corny dialogue, charming artificiality, and glorified melodrama. Not well received by the critics, this obvious film seems to be trying too hard while never quite ringing true. Should be an okay watch for romantics and sentimentalists. (B-)
33 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
8/10
not great... but romantic and beautiful chemistry
adi_r1 September 2005
I saw this movie not expecting much from it. I was more interested in seeing how the chemistry between Charlize and Stuart works as they are lovers in real life too.

The movie is a melodramatic love story that takes place in the years that preceded WW II and during the war. The story is rather predictable and quite boring sometimes.

But what makes this movie nice to see are some moments that are nicely portrayed by the main actors and that I find rather moving. And if something makes this movie special, is Stuart Townsend that gives a certain feeling to his character.

In the end, I liked the movie as I ignored some of its flaws (like most of the movies I see)and appreciated the overall atmosphere created, a couple of moving a memorable scenes and the beautiful chemistry between Charlize and Stuart. I think, it is underrated. It should be around 6.5-7. I give him an 8, as a balance.
20 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
3/10
Melodramatic tripe
hakof12 April 2009
A young, impoverished, passionate left-wing Irish student at Cambridge University, Guy Malyon (Stuart Townsend) falls in love with a happy-go-lucky, American-born socialite Gilda Bessé (Charlize Theron). Maylon follows her to 1930s Paris, where she is a professional photographer and where she lives with a Spanish-born nurse named Mia (Penélope Cruz). Maylon and Bessé cohabitate and work together. Inflamed by the injustice of the fascist Falange in the Spanish War, Mia and Maylon leave Paris to fight in the Spanish Civil War. Maylon eventually returns to Paris; he later fights in World War II; and he constantly longs for Bessé.

Somewhere, someone commented that this film could have had the tagline, "How world events can mess with your love life." That pretty much sums it up. Maylon wants to be with Bessé, but the great struggle against fascism keeps derailing their relationship. Frankly, the script is ridiculous. In fact, the whole storyline is completely overdone and melodramatic. It seems very contrived. It is as if the screenwriter wanted to tell an epic, dramatic love story against the political events of Europe 1934-1944, but this film doesn't have the heft. It's no "Dr. Zhivago." Additionally, the acting is fairly awful and over-dramatic. I can't believe that two Oscar-worthy actresses needed to act in a movie as absurd as this one. There is nothing subtle about the script that would befit their great acting talents.

After seeing this film on cable television, I was so disappointed that I was moved to write the foregoing comment. I would recommend avoiding this film.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
1/10
Dullsville
ENS3167114 September 2004
Surprisingly boring giving its epic subject matter and emotional potential, this WWII romance falls flat because of three reasons. First, some truly horrendously pompous dialogue that never allows you to relate to the characters as human beings so much as writer's contrivances. Second, a wooden performance by Stuart Townsend who is actually the lead of the film as he is afforded by far the most screen time and through whose eyes we see the film (just watch is non-reaction at the death of a friend during the Spanish civil war scenes). Third, a slew of melodramatic contrivances that add up to some unintentionally funny moments (a gypsy fortune teller straight out of a dime novel or the gut-busting fact that Theron joins the French resistance while neglecting to tell the French). Yes, there are a few bright moments: Cruz is good, the photography is beautiful and Theron does try hard. But really... didn't anyone read the script?
20 out of 38 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
2/10
Sorry, but this is a terrible movie
sandrajensen22 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I think this film is the director/writer's excuse to do some soft porn and create his idealised version of Paris. Bad writing, bad directing, even some bad acting from Theron, who I normally love. But perhaps she couldn't help it given the circumstances. I didn't care about any of the characters, except perhaps Cruz's.I was so bored, and yet compelled to sit through until the end, which wasn't even a bitter end, just a pathetic fizzle. I liked Berkoff, he was excellent, but even here, the scene he was in detracted from his work. I can't even think of more to write so I can fill in the 10 lines I'm supposed to for this comment. Watch something else, unless you want to go to sleep. Or, indeed, if you want a little soft porn with all the usual suspects - a bit of s & m, a bit of girl kissing and a man's wet dream, two beautiful woman to himself in bed. Turn the sound off and just watch.
10 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
7/10
Well photographed and nicely told story...
RealLiveClaude31 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie at the World Film Festival in Montreal and I was quite interested in a story of a socialite in a era where a country, then the world was in conflict (the Spanish Civil War and World War II)

This is the story of a freelance socialite Gilda Bessé (Theron) whose life in Paris is so carefree, working in art photography. A young British man, Guy, (Townsend) joins in by her invitation. He has also to share this flat with Mia, a Spanish nurse (Cruz) whose dreams of being a dancer were broken due to political views. However, she wants to go back to her home country to help take care of her countrymen fighting the Fascists. Guy joins her, leaving a very deceived Gilda back in Paris. However, in Spain, Guy and Mia have a brief fling before she dies. Guy goes back in Paris, only to discover Gilda is in love with a Nazi officer, which might get her in trouble at the end of the War. However, she will save his life to prove her true love to him.

Though we heard this kind of story before (a melodrama), it is nicely photographed and well told at a slow pace, without much to say. However, Charlize Theron does shine her, so's Stuart Townsend. Young Quebec actress Karine Vanasse does also shines here as a French Resistance girl and Quebec actor David La Haye is not bad either. As for Penelope Cruz, she is all right, however I would have put more life in her character.

Note for this: 7/10
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
1/10
Terrible
crazylolita30 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I love historical movies. I love romantic movies. I love dramatic movies. And, I love action movies. Head in the Clouds is a combination of all of these movie genres. However, Head in the Clouds is probably the worst movie I have seen in years. The acting is bad and the plot is obvious (self-centered, slutty, rich girl becomes a better person). In addition, some of the characters are utterly worthless. All of this is really ashame considering the fact that there were large amounts of money spent on making a period like this. The story had potential if only it hadn't been thrown together so sloppily. I usually like the movies that Charlize Theron, Stuart Townsend, and Penelope Cruz are in. But, they must truly be ashamed of Head in the Clouds.
7 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
6/10
Head in the clouds, feet at the war
mario_c9 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is an "epoch drama" about the romance story between the two main characters, Guy (Stuart Townseed) and Gilda (Charlize Theron). It all started in 1933 in Cambridge University where they met each other for the first time. Though, they were together just for one night. But it was kind of love at first sight and along the movie they will be together and separated for many times. It's their destiny… However, to their love one more soul will be joined. Her name is Mia (Penelope Cruz). For a part of the movie they will be a love triangle, but then the war separated them…

You need to have some acknowledgment about the European's history of the 30's and 40's, and about the wars of that period, to understand the movie's pace and the plot's background. You need that to follow this movie and understand its settings and the behaviors of the mains characters. Just understanding the ideals which are related to the social conflicts and wars of that period we can follow their actions and attitudes… and also the "betrayals"…

The pace is a bit confusing because the story passes between 1933 and 1944 and along this period of time we watch several scenes in different "times" and "places". The plot is always "jumping" in time and space… It turns out a bit confusing because if we watch one 5 minutes' scene in 1933 then, suddenly, it quickly moves to one year later. Then we watch one more couples of scenes in 1936 and it quickly moves to 1940, for example. The same happens with the settings. If one scene is in England, sooner the other will be in Paris…

The costumes and the scenario's production are excellent, which makes this movie a good one if we relate it to the history's genre. However the plot disappointed me a little bit, not only because it's a bit confusing, but especially because it was too different from what I expected. I think I was expecting a different (and also deeper) love triangle story. Something more intense about the three characters, and not that this love triangle was just a "part" of the story/movie, as it is.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
5/10
Surface gloss
Asa_Nisi_Masa23 May 2007
Set in England, France and Spain between the 20s and the end of WWII, it doesn't really evoke any of the places it's set in very convincingly - only rather superficially. It wasn't a bad film – nowhere near as lame as something like Charlotte Gray, for instance. It wasn't an especially good movie, either, though. Nothing about Head in the Clouds is ever dreadful, but it's also all rather skin deep, with none of the characters' plights ever really moving the viewer. When Charlize Theron's poor little rich girl Gilda had to choose between the Gestapo Officer and the nice, idealistic Irish boy fighting for the partisans in the Spanish Civil War, I was willing her to go for the sexy German. Oops – probably not what its makers had in mind. It didn't really matter, though - to me she was just having to choose between a blonde haired guy and a dark haired guy, and not much else. Finally, Penelope Cruz, who'd borrowed her limp from Audrey Tautou's character in Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles, looked like she was waiting for Almodovar to pop by any minute and whisk her off to a far more interesting film set. At least my boyfriend got to see Theron's boobies, though, so he was happy about that.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
The emotions aren't convincing enough!
KurzerBus20 September 2004
I am a huge fan of WWII era films. I enjoy seeing how costumes and persona's are played out in the film. When i read the synopsis of this particular one, i thought, 'this could be a good one'. But unfortunately, I was disappointed. Theron and Townsend seem as if they are worried too much of showing their real life emotions for each other throughout the film. The whole thing hardly ever connects well. I do like the fact that they spoke the original languages, I appreciate that concept and also, the costume designer did a wonderful job. Nevertheless, Charlize and Stewart look bored through the whole thing, and she also seems as if she is reading her lines from the palm of her hand. The emotions just AREN'T convincing enough.
9 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
3/10
Pale attempt at an epic - fast-forward until Kretschmann appears
machiavelli_imp1 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This film has wonderful possibility, but never transfers the scope, romance and moral depth the writers and producers so clearly believe it has to the audience.

Although it spans more than a decade, the film shows us no metamorphosis in the characters: even Theron's Gilda is still the same hedonist, Townsend's Guy remains a love-struck, quiet and principled student and Mia -- well, her fate arrives halfway through the film, so such an assertion may be cheating -- but she's still the foil for both of them (and yet, such a straightforward mixture of both characters). Despite the occasionally wooden acting, (mostly) gratuitous sex and clichéd plot twists, this lack of character is precisely what makes the film self-defeating. There are some lovely touches: the inclusion of the Spanish civil war in the plot, when to modern audiences it is overshadowed by WWII, the treatment of Gilda by the ordinary French civilians and particularly the ending, but the dialogue and the actions of Gilda and occasionally Guy just subvert every positive. This is especially prevalent as the over-long film draws to a close. I note that several previous reviews mention the ending: it is obvious that the writers wanted to show the darker side of the "liberation" and how this turned those who actively hated the occupation against almost everyone else, but the mechanism of having Gilda - a Resistance agent well known to SIS/MI5 - executed doesn't work - it's one coincidence too many.

The final "problem" with the film turns out to be its one redeeming feature: Thomas Kretschmann. He quietly munches up all available scenery, as the saying goes, in every second he's even slightly in view of the camera. This wonderfully understated acting (see other reviews for details), as well as the most interesting and complex character by far, simply outshines the leads. It made me highly frustrated that Gilda didn't just ignore the drippy idealist and run off to Germany with the Hauptsturmfuhrer/Major. That refusal really underscores that she doesn't change at all: patriotism is fun and exciting only when she is in minimal danger, ultimately just another rush in her Epicurean life.

In summary, just fast-forward until Guy arrives in Paris. The director finally wakes up and uses clever camera-work and more-than-decent actors. Hopefully you will too.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
5/10
Tough movie to get swept away in.
triple81 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS THROUGH:

This was a movie that had it all-friendship, romance, sex, violence, war, love and tragedy. It also had a dynamic cast. But I did not like this at all. Somehow, for me,all the ingredients do not come together to create an epic picture.

For one thing the element of being manipulated was here through the whole picture. One moment it's over the top with the sex scenes, then another moment the audience is supposed to get swept way in the romance, then still again is all the tragedy. It's the kind of picture where I never believe the performers are the characters their playing, rather that their just movie stars dressed up in costumes. The theatrics of the whole movie in going over the top in so many ways, and the lack of believing in the characters made it tough to be swept away.

I DO love some movies that are tragic but also believable and captivating, a good example being "Legends of the fall", which happens to be one of my favorites. And I also can enjoy movies that may fail at being superb but are so big on atmosphere, that they become sort of guilty pleasures. (Example-"Original Sin" which I just watched for the second time the same day I saw this for the first time). But Head in the clouds lacked a lot. Besides the things mentioned, it really wasn't very enjoyable either. It was sort of like watching a movie that had all the right ingredients but I don't know, it just did not hook me in.

There were so many short quick scenes, so many over the top happenings, so much that didn't make sense(like the ending-why DIDN'T she just explain who she really was?). And just like some movies try so hard for laughs if their comedies, this one was trying so so hard for the audience to believe in Theron and Townsend's characters so that it could be this tragic love story. The tragic ending seemed completely unnecessary.

It seemed almost everything-the sex, the romance etc-was there for effect. Then again I am not a big fan of war movies so all the violence started getting to me too. However I WILL say that the movie's biggest positive was it's ability to show the brutality of war. I am giving it a rating of 5 for that alone because that was done well.

Maybe if the movie had just been a war movie or just been a romance or just been a movie about friendships it would have been better. The acting was great I think and I will comment on Townsend who I thought, was very very good and interestingly I thought both Theron and Townsend both had more chemistry with Penelope Cruz then with each other. And speaking of Cruz-this was the best I have ever seen her.

I could see why some people would like this but I didn't really care for this. My vote's 5 of 10.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
7/10
non-balanced triangle
dromasca25 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
'Head in the Clouds' tries to be too much - historic movie, melodrama, erotic story, and overall a romantic triangle story set in the 30s and 40s Paris. The very banal Brit Guy (Stuart Townsend) gets involved with the fabulous half-French half-American socializing Gilda played by Charlize Theron whose relationship with the Spanish refugee Mia (Peneloppe Cruz) fills in the triangle. When Guy and Mia will follow their political instincts and go fighting to Spain, Gilda stays on her well-being role. Eventually war happens, and the relationship between Guy and Gilda apparently over re-ignites again for a tragic finale.

The story is quite fluently told, and nicely filmed, but the main problem is in the lack of balance between the feminine and masculine sides of the triangle. It's not only that Theron and Cruz are much better acting talents than Townsend, it's also because the script never decides what this pivotal character is meant to be or justifies how it comes that he becomes the object of interest of the fabulous Theron and eventually of the involved and passionate Cruz. So that the only credible relationship is the one between Gilda and Mia, never shown directly on screen.

This film could have been much more, but despite the acting talents it's only one more not very credible war melodrama.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
1/10
A Waste of Time
barnabaponchielli17 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a boring history drama. bad acted and badly directed by Duigan, who is also the writer of the book which inspires the movie. 2 hours in which everything seems to happen, but in which nothing really happen. The story of the relationship between Charlize Theron (ok, every time you see her your jaws drop...), Penelope Cruz and an inexpressive Stuart Townsend during the second world war has no deepness and no meaning, because the characters don't seem to know what they are doing. Even in the most dramatic parts you fell asleep and didn't feel anything. This may be because writers should not direct the stories of their own books (Evil Enko is another example of a very bad adaption), or they don't have the right distance from the story they want to tell.
6 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
8/10
Definitely Worth Seeing
clieberg4 October 2005
If this story is not about three real people, it may as well be. The spirits and fears and courage all existed at that time. The passions, wildly expressed sometimes and restrained in other instances seem authentic and appropriate for the characters and the time. The pre-war years have a tension, attended to by some and ignored by others, that is well conveyed.

Cherize Theron's speech patterns sound like John Malkovich, but English is her second language; perhaps she selects people to imitate or has them recommended to her. I see in the "trivia" section the nontrivial fact that her mother, under attack, shot and killed her father when she was fifteen. Theron plays the part as though there is a world of experience inside her shell -- and indeed there is. The ending, I agree, was ... but I don't have a suggestion for an alternative. Regarding the script, the language is often just a little too much, like an over- frosted cake (the Malkovich miming underscores this excess, because he can make any script sound over-written, oddly.) Nevertheless, I believe it to be a very good film, one I'll recommend.
8 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews