Reviewed by Dick Straub
On the soundtrack:
Tower of song
Waiting for the miracle
Bird on the wire (Jennifer Warnes)
Dance me to the end of love
Take this longing
Ain't no cure for love
Two businessmen – in search of themselves – leave the ‘rat race’ and their families behind to live peacefully on a tropical island until their mutual love for a beautiful woman drives them apart
Directed by Roger Young. MGM, 105 minutes. Starring Gary Cole, Sheryl Lee, William Petersen, Terence Stamp
It seems highly ironical. MGM and Showtime have shown the same disdain for distributing and promoting "Kiss the Sky" that Columbia exhibited with many of Cohen's albums. The movie belongs high up on the list of items in the "Art Inspired by Cohen" category. First of all, there are eight Cohen songs on the soundtrack, with the artist performing seven and Jennifer Warnes covering "Bird on a Wire."
More importantly, however, the film includes such plot elements (in no particular order) as a painful abandonment of wife and children to pursue the search for self; a reluctant return to family by one character and flight to a monastery high in the mountains by the other; a Zen monk who has had an affair with the lead female; references to a Zen master who experiences pain like everyone else, who enjoys his sake, and for whom the perfect airport gift is a fine single-malt scotch; boyhood friends sharing drugs and engaging together in a confused search for sex and spirituality, neither ever sure of which comes first; unintended tortures wrecked on each other by men and women in the pursuit of love - this list could go on and on.
There is probably not a single major theme in the film that can't be somehow linked back to Cohen. One highlight is a humorous explication of why women are less vulnerable and stronger than men. Hint - it has more to do with genitalia than one might expect! (This scene cannot be done justice in summary-- it should be heard verbatim to be fully appreciated.) Oddly, the closing credits do not include the song listing. "Featuring the songs of Leonard Cohen" is in the title sequence, however, and the closing credits include: "Producers wish to thank - Leonard Cohen ." (he is first one listed).
William Peterson and Gary Cole play the friends (who sometimes can be seen as embodiments of various aspects of Cohen himself). Sheryl Lee is the very attractive blonde paramour of both characters (a paramour to both simultaneously in a very sensual "Dance me to the End of Love" ménage a trios) and Terence Stamp is great as the "dirty old monk" (whose "dress only hides the hard on, it doesn't make it go away"). . Further on marketing -- the film had no theatrical release to speak of, and Showtime has scheduled it only a couple of times. What a shame! The video is also already out of print. The one good note -- the inexpensive DVD was released on June 6, 2000!