Isn't it Romantic?
How the movies haven't kissed off that old black magic called love
by Frank Rizzo
HARTFORD, Conn. - A kiss is still a kiss, at least in the movies.
While the big screen has always flickered with romances, Hollywood, in the past few months, seems to be bitten by the love bug.
(snipped for A Walk in the Clouds)
The latest such offering is "A Walk In The Clouds", an admittedly old-fashioned love story starring Keanu Reeves and Aitana Sanchez-Gijon. The film, set in lush, pastoral, post-World War II Napa Valley, Calif., is directed by Alfonso Arau, whose "Like Water For Chocolate" made many moviegoers swoon.
Romantic films have always been a staple for Hollywood, but most of the recent batch seems to be a retro breed: more sentimental, dreamy, almost harking back to another era of swelling music, great hairdos and relationships where no one takes out the garbage. Only "Something To Talk About" has the sass and smarts of last year's surprise romantic hit, "Four Weddings And A Funeral".
The most wistful of thses aching romances may be that of "A Walk In The Clouds", a tale of a noble young man who pretends to be the husband of a young woman he has just met so her domineering father will not disown her when he discovers she is unmarried and pregnant.
"There is nostalgia for the old values," says Arau. "Audiences, I think, long for the world to be a little less complicated, a little less cynical and corrupt, a little less materialistic."
Arau says audiences long for another world to escape to, a fantasy land that HOllywood knows well.
When "A Walk In The Clouds'" young soldier hero enters the never-never land of Napa Valley, "it's almost like entering Oz or Shangri-La, some timeless place where romance can flourish."
Arau compares his leading man not to stars of the present but of the past. "It's an old-fashioned, innocent role," he says of the characteer Reeves plays, "like the ones played in the past by Gary Cooper, James Stewart and Henry Fonda."
And he says, audiences are willing to accept his return to innocence. "I think everybody is romantic inside," says Arau. "But many people now in these modern times hide their romantic side deep inside."