See not all Germans are bad, kind of.
Adapted from Michael Ondaatje’s acclaimed novel set against the backdrop of World War II, Anthony Mingehlla’s Oscar-winning drama stars Ralph Fiennes as a horribly burned pilot who recounts a tale of doomed romance to the nurse tending him (Juliette Binoche). As his story is revealed via flashback, so too are secrets about his identity and the depth of his passion for the woman he loved (Kristin Scott Thomas). Willem Dafoe co-stars.
The film is played out and in the style of old Hollywood films, such as Lawrence of Arabia, or Sunset Blvd. However, the way its structured makes it stand-out more from those classics.
The direction from great director Anthony Mingehlla is what makes this film great. I liked how we came into this story, not knowing much about any of these characters, especially, Fiennes, and through the flashbacks it all plays out as if its really happening. Too many times have these non-linear plot structures played out, and we are confused, and totally twisted up about what is actually happening, but with this it plays along to both stories, and they work hand in hand.
There are many aspects of this film that just make this amazing. It is shot so beautifully, with plenty of images in the desert of Egypt, while feeling like Indiana Jones, with the Persian set pieces, and actually looking realistic. The screenplay adds a lot more onto the subject material. Its a moving love story, but also shows the harsh realities that come with love, and especially when the love is dangerous, as we have here. There are moments of love that are happy and passionate, however there are plenty of times, that its sad, and can not work out. So much detail was put into this and you can just tell.
The problem with this film that plenty of others have had, was that it is that its too long. For me, I didn’t think it was totally long, however, there were parts that could have been cut out, along with the slow pace that it so dreadfully annoying at times. There were also moments in this film that I felt the love between Fiennes and Scott Thomas was a bit too self-absorbed. They didn’t quite think of anyone else when they were having this affair, and it kind of spiraled out of control, how we were supposed to feel pity for these lovers.
Ralph Fiennes, stars in his best performance, since the bad-ass Nazi, in Schindler’s List. He not only uses his charming looks to win the audience over, but there are plenty of times, that you can see the pain he goes through as this character trying to understand the way of true love. French actress, Juliette Binoche, is even better showing that she can use beauty, to convey the central innocence and likability within a character. Kristin Scott Thomas is great in her performance, and the scenes she has with Fiennes, are just sometimes spot-on with the chemistry. Willem Dafoe is a kind of random character, but still has some good moments when he’s on screen.
Consensus: Though terribly long at times, The English Patient still delivers a true, and moving portrayal of love, with powerful performances, and a direction that is beauty.