The English Patient (1996)

A movie about a nurse caring for a badly burned man in an Italian monastery at the end of World War II and the man’s prior love affair with a married Englishwoman years before. Starring Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas and Juliette Binoche.

I highly expected to give this a glowing five stars and let it sit comfortably in my Top 10 films list. But I won’t give it 5*s. But at the same time, I didn’t dislike it so much that I would be satisfied for it to sit on my Worst Films list either. Confused? OK, let me explain.

Ralph Fiennes was fantastic. He always has such a raw energy in all of the roles he plays. As the grand love story between his Count Laszlo de Almasy and Kristin Scott Thomas’s Katherine Clifton, I couldn’t help but notice that Scott’s acting was the weaker of the two. I didn’t really feel any driving emotion concerning their romance and as a result didn’t really care that much when things went pear-shaped. This film swept up so many awards and yet now I’m sitting here the day after I watched it feeling infinitely nonplussed. I would have honestly liked to see Binoche as Katherine, but seeing as Thomas lobbied the director to appear in the film herself it kind of makes sense.

All that aside, the cinematography is great, the music blends well and the other actors in the film portray their roles perfectly. The divide between the prewar and war years was interesting but I felt as if putting Hana and Kip together was just a way to satisfy the romantic logic of comparable romantic story-lines.

However, I think this is the sort of film which requires repeat viewings to truly appreciate it. I might watch it again some day but for now I appreciate the acting involved and other components to make it the solid film that it is.

MY RATING: ***.5 / *****

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