USA Today - 12/12/1990
"...Vittorio Storaro's photography is brilliant, the most dramatic desert footage since LAWRENCE OF ARABIA..." -- 3 1/2 out of 4 stars
New York Times - 12/12/1990
"...Bertolucci's most seductive, most hypnotic movie....[Malkovich and Winger] are extraordinarily fine..."
Los Angeles Times - 01/11/1991
"...John Malkovich and Debra Winger are superb....And from the film's first moments there is a sense of place both terrifyingly vast and stifling..."
Port and Kit Moresby (John Malkovich and Debra Winger) are American artists and self-styled "travelers" (as opposed to tourists) exploring Saharan Africa. Their 10-year marriage is strained enough to be threatened by the presence of their boorish companion, Tunner (Campbell Scott), who has designs on Kit. The couple's restlessness, along with a kind of fascination with their own estrangement, keeps them moving further away from civilization and from infidelity. Port grows ill, however, and Kit finds herself alone in the desert, cut off from everything she knows. Director Bernardo Bertolucci and director of photography Vittorio Storaro fabulously capture the forbidding beauty of the Saharan locations, as well as Malkovich's brooding self-assurance and Winger's artless sexuality. The color schemes of red and blue serve the story of lovers who live on different emotional planes. Paul Bowles, the expatriate author whose semiautobiographical novel is the basis for the film, comments on the action as a narrator and one-man chorus. He warns Kit, and the viewer, that life is far more finite than one habitually imagines, and that the chance to put things right will not wait forever.
Three Americans find more than they bargained for as they travel through postwar Africa in this adaptation of Paul Bowles's novel. Kit (Debra Winger) and Port (John Malkovich) are a married couple separated by a strange schism; they try to escape their alienation by moving deeper and deeper into the unfamiliar. Port is mesmerized, but it is Kit who must ultimately find the strength to survive in a world so unknown as to be dreamlike.