The Sheltering Sky
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In Bernardo Bertolucci's adaptation of Paul Bowles' novel The Sheltering Sky, an American couple (Debra Winger and John Malkovich) travel to North Africa in the late '40s with the hopes of resparking their love and their lackluster lives. The couple brings along a friend (Campbell Scott), who soon has an affair with Winger, and the trio's beliefs and lives are challenged as they struggle through the numbing heat of Africa. Despite some wonderful visuals and photography, The Sheltering Sky is far too slowly-paced and convoluted to appeal to most viewers. Though Bertolucci and… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 50%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"A disappointingly reductive adaptation of Paul Bowles's first novel."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"A long, beautifully modulated cry of despair."
‑ Vincent Canby, New York Times
"Filled with stunning visuals."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Bertolucci's grand desert epic gets stuck in the sand right at the start."
‑ Christopher Null,
"One of those movies where you know they're trying to say something important, but it's just not coming across."
‑ Brian Webster, Apollo Guide
"Those who haven't read the book will be left bewildered."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"The book is so complete, so deep and so self-contained that it shuts the movie out. Bertolucci shows us the outsides and the surfaces, and a person seeing this movie without having read the book might ask what it is about."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
‑ , Film4
"(No quote available.)"
‑ Daniel M. Kimmel, Worcester Telegram & Gazette
"We are brought face-to-face with the compulsions and yearnings which lie behind our alternating love and fear of life."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
"As you'd expect, it's a big, handsome film, rich and strange in psychological depths and eroticism. Malkovich and Winger play woundingly well."
‑ , Time Out
"Bowles's gentle, avian features, the obvious wisdom of his years and his distinctive presence are practically worth the price of admission."
‑ Desson Thomson, Washington Post
"Brimming with obscure meaning and devoid of drive and fervor, the film dries up in that symbolic desert sun, the victim of its own pretensions and a casualty of trying to film something best suited to the realm of cult literature."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Soul searching is rarely a thrill a minute but it's rarely as tedious as this. ...Oscar-bait it may be, but "The Sheltering Sky" is more deserving of the First Annual Chicken Little Award."
‑ James Sanford, James Sanford on Film
"Fascinating without ever being involving"
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
More reviews for The Sheltering Sky on Rotten Tomatoes