Dreaming Of What Could Be

A movie whose only saving grace is its scenery.

Kuki (Kim Basinger) is a rich American living in Italy, who is involved in an automobile accident near the beginning of the story. Also involved in the accident is Paolo Gallmann, whom Kuki falls in love with and eventually marries. The happy couple, together with Kuki's seven year-old son from a previous marriage, then decide to move to Africa to start a new life on a ranch.

To Kuki, Africa is an opportunity for her to start anew, to rediscover the joy of living in an environment that is fraught with danger. And danger she finds in no small measure - with Paolo away for days at a time, hunting and tracking with his friends, Kuki is left alone on the ranch to fend for herself against wild animals, poachers, and some majestic storms.

Now, this sounds interesting, and with a little bit of effort, it would probably have made a gripping tale. But unfortunately, "I Dreamed Of Africa" falters because of two reasons: a script that never seems to move towards any kind of conclusion, and a story that rings with pompous one-liners delivered by Kuki. While Basinger certainly brings all her acting prowess to bear on Kuki, her constant proclamations of self-awareness often seem synthetic and detract from the story rather than adding to it. The supporting cast is also quite good, but there's only so much they can do with a script that often appears to be suffering from advanced Alzheimer's.

Perhaps the movie's only saving grace is its scenery - shot in some gorgeous African locations, you'll see everything from elephants to flamingos, and the photography is often reminiscent of a Discovery Channel documentary. In its current incarnation, "I Dreamed Of Africa" has very little to recommend itself to the discerning viewer - although tighter direction and a more focused story could have made it so much more. Still, we can always dream.

This article was first published on 20 Sep 2000.