Bernardo Bertolucci directs Debra Winger, John Malkovich and Campbell Scott in this epic tale of an unfaithful American couple who travel off the map into the Algerian desert.
Not entirely sure this movie would have been made any time other than the early Nineties. Erotic but tasteful, epic but distant. That distance seems to cause issues for the fans of the book, a cult literary item by Paul Bowles who appears and narrates here. They expect an internal, metaphysical story but Bertolucci recreates the plot pretty much at face value. Incident without comment. You’d be hard pressed to say the cast are stretched. Winger and Malkovich are characters with no idea of what they want, no destination in mind, who carry further on into the wilderness and oblivion. Their blankness again is ambiguous and intriguing if you are approaching this fresh with no fealty to the source material’s grander themes. And the North African shoot looks fantastic. A glow of arid red and browns, tanned skins and shaggy camels. Orientalism – again a mode that was out of fashion only a few years later.
Perfect Double Bill: The English Patient (1996)
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