A Walk in the Clouds
by Guy Garcia
[Here's the relevant section about Keanu]:
Based on Alesandro Blasetti's 1942 film FOUR STEPS IN THE CLOUDS, A WALK IN THE CLOUDS is set in the fictional California vineyard of Las Nubes (The Clouds) in 1945, immediately after World War II, Keanu Reeves portrays Paul Sutton, a returning G.I. who falls in love with Victoria Aragon, the daughter of a wealthy Napa vineyard owner.
As in LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE, the two lovers are separated by circumstances and convention, in this case, Victoria's disapproving father, Alberto, who is played by Giancarlo Giannini, and Paul's estranged wife. Prevented from consummating their love, Paul and Victoria's emotions are expressed through the sensual rituals of the wine harvest and the transcendent beauty of the northern California landscape.
Mr. Arau [the director] admits that superficially at least, there are thematic similarities between LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE and his newest film. "Again it's a love story," he says. "There is some magic also, because the vineyard is going to be like a timeless Shangri-La. And there are traditions involved, of the family and wine making. But I am not trying to repeat myself. I had several projects that I had picked up and this one was ready first. So it was fate."
Just to make sure, Mr. Arau has his personal astrologer, Giovana Flores, on hand to give the production her blessing. Asked if the stars were in alignment for the movie, Ms. Flores, a serene woman in a long black and red dress, gestures affirmatively. "Alfonso is very spiritual," she says. "That's the other part of him, and it's an important part."
Mr. Reeves agrees. "He's like a guru," says the actor, who should know, having earlier this year portrayed a hunky Siddharta in Bernardo Bertolucci's LITTLE BUDDHA. "Alfonso comes across as a man who knows a lot about life and still winks and says 'I know nothing about life.'"
It was Mr. Arau and the chance to play a romantic lead that initially drew Mr. Reeves to the film. After starring roles in the current action hit SPEED and the forthcoming cyber-punk thriller JOHNNY MNEMONIC, Mr. Reeves was eager to portray a character with more emotional depth. "This is the antithesis of my last two films," he says. "This is all passion and heart and yearning. Paul is a good guy and a man of his word, and it's getting confusing for him because his word and his passion are going different places."
Friendly yet subdued in a 1940's-style tan linen suit and straw hat, Mr. Reeves is attentive and unfailingly polite on the set, like a kid trying to impress his elders at a Sunday school picnic. But when the cameras roll, his Paul is a pillar of male vulnerability, a man-child on the cusp of maturity, which is exactly what Mr. Arau wanted
[The rest of the article talks more about the director Alfonso Arau.]