Monday, July 16, 2012

The English Patient

Reeling from the harrows of battle and the loss of yet another one of her friends, a Canadian nurse stationed in Italy during World War II decides to remain behind at a bombed out, abandoned monastery with a badly burned, unidentified soldier. Given the title moniker due to his accent, the patient's amnesia gradually reveals his identity as a Hungarian Count and the events, including a doomed affair with his coworker's wife, that led to his current predicament. "The English Patient" is a sumptuous and strange film that magnificiently weaves its story in a manner that dies any and all traditional romantic storytelling modes. Made by the late and vastly underrated Anthony Minghella, adapting himself from Michael Ondaatje's novel, he manages to capture the sweep of the material while striking at the heart of the character's including their tenuous moral choices. Ralph Fiennes is excellent in the title role, playing the Count both in the past and as the present burnt specimen. Kristin Scott Thomas is great also, playing the wife of Fienne's coworker, with whom he has an ill-fated love affair. Also Juliette Binoche is absolutely splendid as the sweet but worn nurse who nurse Fiennes back to health. Rounding out the cast, Willem Dafoe, Colin Firth, and Lost's Naveen Andrews all have memorable bits. "The English Patient" is a well rounded and moving romance, reaches and attains so much more than we've come to expect from the genre.