The Sheltering Sky (1990) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Sheltering Sky (1990)



Critic Consensus: The Sheltering Sky puts its talented stars at odds with a misguided and largely unsatisfying adaptation of potentially unfilmable source material.

Movie Info

From director Bernardo Bertolucci, The Sheltering Sky is a filmed adaptation of the novel of the same name by Paul Bowles. Debra Winger and John Malkovich star as Kit and Port Moresby, a married American couple who globetrot to North Africa in the late '40s with the hopes of re-sparking their love and adding some zest to their lackluster lives. Along for the ride is the pair's friend George Tunner (Campbell Scott), who soon begins having an affair with Kit. As they struggle through the numbing heat of Africa amidst the sudden love triangle, each of the trio sees his and her beliefs and lives challenged. The Sheltering Sky earned a Best Director nomination for Bertolucci at the 1991 Golden Globe Awards.

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John Malkovich
as Port Moresby
Debra Winger
as Kit Moresby
Jill Bennett
as Mrs. Lyle
Eric Vu-An
as Balquassim
Amina Annabi
as Mahrnia
Philippe Morier-Genoud
as Captain Broussard
Sotigui Kouyaté
as Abdelkader
Tom Novembre
as French Immigration Officer
Kamel Cherif
as Ticket Seller
Nicoletta Braschi
as French Woman
Paul Bowles
as Narrator
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Critic Reviews for The Sheltering Sky

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (9)

A disappointingly reductive adaptation of Paul Bowles's first novel.

December 7, 2007 | Full Review…

Those who haven't read the book will be left bewildered.

December 7, 2007 | Full Review…

As you'd expect, it's a big, handsome film, rich and strange in psychological depths and eroticism. Malkovich and Winger play woundingly well.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A long, beautifully modulated cry of despair.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/5

[A] frustrating, monotonously obscure movie.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

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.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Sheltering Sky

I would feel like I was overlooking some considerable flaws if I called this movie perfect, but I am perfectly okay with saying that I loved it. Bertolucci's direction is as powerful as ever, controlling tone and atmosphere with the precision we expect from him. This is among his most visually beautiful work, with Vittorio Storaro's cinematography providing aesthetic poetry in almost every scene. Peculiarly constructed and sometimes confusing, I found this film's debatable narrative faults to be conducive to its overall effect. John Malkovich and Debra Winger are outstanding, and there are plenty of strong supporting performances as well. A beautiful, unnerving epic drama.

Mike T.
Mike T.

Super Reviewer


A painfully long movie...

Audrey Lush
Audrey Lush

Super Reviewer

The worst!!! When its finally over you find yourself asking, how can so many talented people make something this pretentious and odious.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

The Sheltering Sky Quotes

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