Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The English Patient

The English Patient, 1996
Directed by Anthony Minghella
Nominated for 12 Oscars, Won 9
Wins Include: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Art/Set Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score

Based on the Booker prize winning novel, the English Patient is a romantic drama set before and during WWII. Focusing on a critically burned man, intially only referred to as "The English Patient", we get two stories. The first and most prominent story is that of the "English Patient". He is a Cartographer employed by the Royal Geographical Society to map the Sahara desert. His name is Count Laszlo de Almsay. Told during flashbacks while being cared for by Canadian nurse Hana, we are told a story about his time in the dessert leading up to WWII, and his falling in love with a married woman named Katherine, who is the wife of Geoffrey Clifton, both of whom are explorers and arrive at the expedition Almsay is on. When Geoffrey has to leave for business, he leaves Katherine behind, and slowly, she and Almsay begin to have an affair.

The second story we get, and the one we are first introduced to, is of Hana looking after the English Patient in an Italian Monastary. We see the drama unfold around her caring for him, and of 2 other men. David Caravaggio, who is a Canadian-Italian thief employed as an Intelligence Operator for the Allies, who claims to know the patient and claims the patient isn't the saint Hana believes him to be. We also get Kip, a Sikh Indian man in the British army, who, along with another soldier or two, stick around the monastary to protect Hana and the patient, and whom Hana falls in love with.

This movie is long. And I'm honestly not really sure what the point of it was. Not that it was a bad movie, per se, but I didn't really see what the point of the story of the affair was while contrasting it to WWII. Almsay and Katherine have very little character, and do not show much about themselves except that they passionately love each other and lust after each other. I hate, hate, hate stories about affairs. They make me so sad that affairs happen.

What the movie did well was the art behind it. The cinematography was very beautiful, almost reminding me of Lawrence of Arabia, with the desert backdrop, the camels, WWII, etc. The costumes and art direction were great, and done so well.

The acting as well, was quite good, but I didn't think it was anything spectacular. Ralph Fiennes was stand-out as the burn patient, looking slightly like a more friendly Voldemort, but playing the part of a mutilated man quite well. Juleitte Binoche was quite good, though I didn't think it was quite amazing enough to earn an Oscar, but then again have not seen any of the other nominated performances. I like her as an actress, so I'm happy to see she did receive recognition. As I understand, it was a bit of an unexpected win.

Overall, the story was very dull, very long, and I found the "present" story more interesting. I was much more interested in Hana, who seemed to have real issues compared to Katherine and Almsay. Her story with Kip was much more interesting and, to me, a better love story.

It was a welcome addition when we start to question whether Almsay was a German spy, as Caravaggio seems to think he was. This could've been more included in the story, to make us really question who exactly Almsay was and what his motive was, but it was not so.

Overall, the movie was just okay. It was longer than it needed to be, and more dull than it should've been. But the acting, the art direction, costumes, cinematography was great that I see why this had such a presence at the Oscars in 1997. Should it have won Best Picture? Personally, I don't think so. But I'm not the one choosing.

Acting- 8/10 
Directing- 7.5/10 
Screenplay- 6.5/10 
Visuals- 9/10 

Music- 8.5/10 
Rewatchability- 5/10 
Emotional Connection- 5/10 
Entertainment- 6/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 6/10 

Overall Package- 7.5/10     
Total: 69/100

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