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The English Patient

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The English Patient

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas
Director: Anthony Minghella
Rated: R
RunTime: 160 Minutes
Release Date: January 1996
Genres: Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Juliette Binoche, Jurgen Prochnow, Clive Merrison, Hichem Rostom, Julian Wadham, Kevin Whately, Nino Castelnuovo, Peter Ruhring, Willem Dafoe, Colin Firth

Review by Walter Frith
2½ stars out of 4

'The English Patient' is a most lavish and exquisitely filmed epic set just before and during World War II. Producer Saul Zaentz who has won two Academy Awards for his development of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' (1975) and 'Amadeus' (1984) brings us this romantic saga that packs a peculiar power in spite of its dramatic shortcomings. A member of the Royal Geographical Society (Ralph Fiennes) has crashed his plane in the Sahara Desert and is aided by Arabs and a Canadian nurse (Juliette Binoche). He is treated for his injuries by her as Allied forces are travelling through Italy and a Canadian spy, code named "moose" (Willem Dafoe) arrives on the scene and suspects Fiennes is a member of the German army. There is a spark of romantic hint between Binoche and Fiennes which puts him in mind of a past affair prior to the outbreak of the war with a married woman (Kristin Scott Thomas). The story travels back and fourth from the present to the past told in flashbacks through Fiennes' thoughts. This film is based on the novel by Canadian author Michael Ondaatje and is adapted for the screen by writer and director Anthony Minghella who combines breathtaking photography by John Seale and rather low key but interesting performances by this first rate cast. Its running time of 161 minutes is rather absorbing beyond what it should be and the picture sags rather badly in its midsection but it is redeemed by a satisfying conclusion which is both moving and somewhat tragic depending on your point of view. Actor Ralph Fiennes is truly a compelling leading man and proved his acting ability to audiences world wide by turning in a superlative performance three years ago in 'Schindler's List' as a bone chilling Nazi commander which brought him an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor for which he should have won. 'The English Patient' is more for film buffs than for general audiences and is an intelligent and literate story told with sensitivity and compassion.

Copyright 1996 Walter Frith

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