Keanu Reeves has managed to be mega-famous over the last three decades while still maintaining his privacy and reputation. Can you name a single scandal involving him? I didn’t think so! I mean, I can, but I’m basically the most logical choice to be his official biographer at this point so that just stands to reason. But here’s the thing: the few scandals I’m aware of are all totally bogus. Well, one might be true; there is convincing evidence that Keanu is immortal.
Facts are facts, guys.
The others are confirmed false, though. A paparazzo claimed in 2007 that Keanu hit him with his car, but the trial showed that the guy actually tripped over his own feet trying to get a photo and Keanu immediately got out of the car to check on him. A woman he never met accused him of hypnotizing and impregnating her, but a DNA test proved his innocence. And in the 90s, a rumor circulated that Keanu had secretly married entertainment mogul David Geffen. Keanu didn’t feel compelled to deny being gay because he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with being homosexual, but eventually had to say that he’d never even met Geffen.
Today, we’re going to talk about mid-1990s Keanu directly after his turn in the hit movie Speed. At this point, he had worked with respected directors such as Gus Van Sant, Kenneth Branagh, Francis Ford Coppola, and Bernardo Bertolucci. Charlie Sheen reportedly groused about this, saying he and Emilio sat around wondering why Keanu got to work with these big names and they didn’t. Despite their riveting portrayal of garbage men in Men at Work, Charlie and Emilio weren’t on the same level as Keanu (who, by the way, reportedly turned down Charlie’s part in Platoon because the movie was too violent). And speaking of scandals, could anyone stand in starker contrast to Keanu than ol’ “Tiger Blood” Sheen?
So Point Break (1991) and Speed (1994) had solidified Keanu as a bankable action star, and what did he decide to do next? A romance directed by Alfonso Arau, director of Like Water for Chocolate. He told the press that his reason for choosing this piece was that it was about “a totally romantic love built on anticipation. It’s when two people feel there’s only one person for each of them. What’s cool here is not that there’s a knight who sweeps her off her feet, but that the two save each other. I believe everybody has this kind of yearning for another person, no matter how reluctant they are to say it.”
It took a true Microsoft Paint expert to lovingly craft these fake muscles on Keanu’s arm
A Walk in the Clouds has the plot of a rom-com with the tone of a rom-dram. Keanu plays traveling chocolate salesman Paul Sutton, just back from WWII (sidebar: if people back then had to track down a traveling salesman to buy chocolate then they truly were the Greatest Generation). He returns to his wife, played by Debra Messing, whom he met and married just three days before shipping off. As she reveals that she didn’t read the letters he wrote her daily, it becomes clear that the two are incompatible but don’t realize it yet.
Paul leaves San Francisco to peddle his sweets in Sacramento (???) and has a meet-cute on a train with graduate student Victoria Aragon on her way home to her family’s Napa vineyard. At least I think it’s supposed to be a meet-cute. She drops her luggage then they fall on top of each other as the train lurches then she throws up on him and accidentally takes his ticket instead of her own. That’s how they find themselves together on a bus for the next leg of the trip, during which he chases off some lecherous guys giving her a hard time.
Such a (married) gentleman!
But the fight also gets Paul kicked off the bus (it wasn’t going above 50 anyhow), and as he walks down the road he encounters a distraught Victoria. She was impregnated by her professor who summarily dumped her, and she’s afraid to go home alone because her traditional Mexican father will kill her. All-around-good-guy Paul hatches a plan straight out of one of those ABC Family Single Career Woman Alone at Christmas movies that I hate myself for watching and offers to pretend to be her husband. They decide that after getting her family to like him, he’ll sneak out in the dead of night and everyone will blame him. What could go wrong?
We all know what happens next, right? I can gloss over the details? The dad is a hard ass, blah blah blah, Paul and Victoria fall in love, blah blah blah, the grandpa eats all of Paul’s chocolates, yada yada yada, Paul feels guilty about kissing Victoria and returns home to find Debra Messing in bed with another man and annulment papers. Is that how you spell annulment? It looks weird. I want there to be more ‘L’s. Anyhow, newly single Paul returns to Napa to profess his love, the dad burns down the vineyard on accident, Paul saves the “root” plant or something and the family is happy.
The trailer actually covers the whole movie except for the fact that Paul is damn MARRIED and even though his wife sucks he’s still married!
Filming the movie was apparently fraught with complications as the set was besieged by yellow jackets and snakes. Speed’s popularity hit a fever pitch halfway through production and girls began trying to access the set in search of Keanu. According to the director, the fame had no impact on Keanu’s personality. “He was concerned only with this part. I don’t think he has any idea how big a star he is,” Arau said.
A big reason Keanu has stayed scandal-free all these years is that he’s intensely private and shy. That’s also led to the misperception that he’s not a very bright guy, despite the fact that he’s clearly a deep thinker. Consider his description of what he learned from his co-star, accomplished Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini: “Giannini in particular showed me how you can invent as an actor. He’s such a technician, a scientist, but he’s got that Chaplinesque quality, too. Talking to him about acting is like talking to Van Gogh about colors. When the camera is turned on he brings into the picture a wonderful invention of humanity, and he’s a man who’s lived a life.” This is exhibit A in my defense of Keanu’s intelligence, which will continue over the course of this project.
Exclusive footage from the author’s imagination
For now, I’ll finish by saying that I’m not generally partial to romantic stories of the com or dram varieties. This might have something to do with me being a single childless woman in her mid-to-late-early-late-mid-thirties who can’t even muster the energy to own a cat, but we’ll never know for sure. Correlation is not causation, as they say. In any case, should you ever find yourself up late on a Sunday night having drunk half a bottle of wine (editor’s note: most of a bottle of wine) doing work that was supposed to be finished on Friday, then the conditions may be ripe to watch this movie that is entertaining enough to keep you on the couch for two hours.
Do you guys have any recommendations for romantic movies that are worth watching?