A review of “Head in the Clouds” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: **

Rating: R for sexuality, nudity and violence

Run Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes

 

 

Oscar winner Charlize Theron’s head was definitely in the clouds when she signed on for this historical romance cum love triangle that can’t see the forest for the trees.

Theron and real-life squeeze Stuart Townsend are late 30’s lovers Gilda Bessé and Guy Malyon. She’s the golden girl, the bohemian heiress blessed with beauty and brains.  He’s the poor Irish son of a policeman, on scholarship to Cambridge University where their paths serendipitously cross.

A passionate affair isn’t enough to keep a girl like Gilda down; she flits off to Paris in a swirl of perfume and apologies.  Ultimately Gilda invites Guy to join her in the City of Lights, where she has transformed herself into a rising star of the art scene. 

Guy moves in and learns to live with Gilda’s unconscionably carefree ways, which include a gorgeous, live-in Spanish model/stripper/revolutionary named Mia (Penelope Cruz).  The trio’s tacit ménage-à-trois sprinkles fuel on the fire, but doesn’t kindle more than a few fleeting sparks.

Politics and hedonism make for odd bedfellows, as Guy discovers when he lets his fervent support of the Spanish Civil War interfere with his love life.  Mia is also drawn to this irresistible conflict.  What’s a nonpartisan girl to do when those she loves most poop out on her for the sake of their principles?

Clouds has all the trappings of a juicy period soap opera, complete with sumptuous period costumes, lavish locations, Franco’s fascists and the WWII German threat thrown in for good measure. But this romantic epic is anything but, desperately tugging at the heartstrings and playing the corny card when the narrative won’t suffice.

Theron is unattainable and unsympathetic; looking out for Number One and eschewing anything meaningful in her life or in her performance. Ditto Townsend, who is wooden throughout. Sigh.