Making the Grades
Paul Sutton (Keanu Reeves) fears he may have made a big mistake when he married Betty (Debra Messing) the day before he shipped out to fight in World War II. Returning home after having a life altering experience, he reunites with his wife only to discover she's more interested in making money than building a life together. In the mere moments it takes to realize the madness of his folly she has packed his bags and sent him off as a travelling salesman so he can keep her in nail polish and stockings.
Determined to uphold his commitment, the former soldier decides to use the time away to figure out how to make the best of his bad situation. But while in transport he meets Victoria (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon), a beautiful Spanish damsel who seems to be in some sort of distress. Yet it is not until after rescuing her from the harassment of a couple of ruffians (and getting thrown off the bus for his gallantry), that the two of them end up on the side of the road together and the source of her real problem comes to light: Victoria is pregnant and unmarried. She is on her way home to tell her Dad (Giancarlo Giannini) the news, although she is convinced he will kill her when he learns of the dishonor she has brought upon herself and their family.
Sympathizing with the crying woman, Paul proposes he act as her husband, just for one day. After the introductions, he will slip away feigning to abandon her and the child he is supposed to know nothing about. It seems like a safe way to avoid facing the wrath of Victoria's fierce father. However, like most lies, the plan quickly becomes much more complicated than the conspirators anticipate. Twenty-four hours stretch into forty-eight. Reasons to stay seem more compelling than reasons to leave. Soon the pretend marriage feels more real than the one he left back home and Paul is caught in a moral tug-of war.
While this romance may appear a little too sentimental at times, somewhat like the movie's scenery that is obviously retouched or matt paintings in places, the way the characters work through their predicament with integrity and honor comes across with great sincerity. Also, the film provides an opportunity to glimpse many aspects of Mexican culture and appreciate multi-generational ties as the Aragon family is shown working together in their vineyard.
Content concern for families includes some black and white flashback sequences of an orphanage being attacked by soldiers where explosions and dead bodies are seen, and verbal arguments, one of which ends up in a scuffle that accidentally starts a fire. Other issues consist of an intimate scene with Paul and Betty (she is shown in her underwear), men drinking to the point of intoxication, and some mild language. Yet fans of romance films, especially those who like men who behave as gentlemen and keep their promises, really should go for A Walk In The Clouds.