Head in the Clouds

Rated 2.0 In 1930s Europe, a Cambridge student (Stuart Townsend) becomes involved in an intense three-way relationship with two women: a free-spirited hedonist (Charlize Theron) and a refugee (Penélope Cruz) from the Spanish Civil War. Writer-director John Duigan goes for a sprawling yet intimate epic of life between the World Wars, going from London to Paris to Spain and back between 1923 and 1945, but the result is sluggish and uninvolving. Theron comes off as too self-possessed and level-headed for her mercurial character, and Townsend is simply wooden and dull—he and Theron may be a real-life couple, but they have little on-screen chemistry. Only Cruz engages our sympathy, and she is gone too soon. Duigan raises echoes of other movies—Casablanca, Cabaret, etc.—and his own movie suffers by comparison.