Yeah, I liked this film and I liked it a lot. No, fuck you. You’re either too blind or too dumb or looking too deep to appreciate the beauty of this film. I must say that this is a film that demands its viewers for time to understand. Probably one of the most complex love stories ever made, and one of the most beautiful too. At first it was hard for me to understand the complexities of the 4 leads, but then after seeing it again, it was such a rewarding experience since The English Patient deals with so many issues of humanity and its surroundings that its like one giant metaphor in which love and pain clash for the fulfillment of one’s conscience and one’s heart.An English plane carrying two people, pilot included, flies through the lonely Sahara desert in Africa, not appearing to have a course, when all of a sudden, a German battery shoots it down, the pilot in his desperation to bail out of the plane, is burned by the flames of the stricken motor, but its too late. We realize that the time is 1944, closing to 1945, at the closing of World War II. Our pilot is rescued by a group of Arab nomads and then ends up in a Canadian regiment that is heading towards Italy. There, our pilot can’t remember anything, but the soldiers think he’s English, so they write him down as an “English Patient.” There we meet Canadian nurse Hana (Juliette Binoche), whom takes care of him. Hana thinks she’s cursed since all the people she has loved, have died. Seeing that the English patient’s death is close, Hana decides to stay with him on an abandoned villa. Soon after that, another Canadian arrives, a thumb-les thief called David Caravaggio (Willem Dafoe), whom has an indirect connection with the patient above. Soon both Hana and Caravaggio start uncovering the mysterious past that hides within the burns and the scars of the patient.
"What’s Wrong With You People?"
It’s interesting how this film lays down its cards for its storytelling. Our patient at first is shown as a vulnerable being, a person whom as he declares, has lost someone in his life. Hana is attracted to him since she’s also lost someone. One can draw an easy conclusion from this point, but there are still many questions unanswered. Soon the film starts twisting you all over, trying to find the true character of the patient, and of course his identity, which is given immediately. We immediately find out that our patient is not English, but from Hungarian origin, and his name being Count Lazlo de Almasy (Ralph Fiennes), a mapmaker whom is a member of the Royal Geographical Society, who was on an expedition with fellow mapmaker and best friend Peter Madox (Julian Wadham) in the Sahara desert, around 1939. Also, he’s joined by a couple which happen to be benefactors of the expedition, Geoffrey (Colin Firth) and Katharine Clifton (Kristin Scott-Thomas). This section soon starts giving out the necessary character development for all our characters, and also, it gives you a point of view of the Count from a softer more simplistic side. Enter Caravaggio, whom is full of anger of what they did to his thumbs, and his connection with the Count reveals a darker, and more mysterious side of the story, involving treason, revenge and political power plays. I was overwhelmed by this part since it especially deals with the political tensions of that time which led to World War II, and how good deeds can be seen as bad ones by other people, and in this case, the Germans taking advantage of geographical intelligence and using it against the British during the African campaign. These complexities are rare on filmmaking today, and remind us again how filmmaking can be intriguing and compelling when its ingredients are well used. What follows next and during all that is that the Count and Katharine fall in a forbidden yet passionate affair, which would soon change their lives forever, and Hana and Caravaggio are witnesses to it all. The message of this main plot is pretty simple, the search for spiritual peace after suffering the loss of a loved one, and the things that we do for our loved ones. But what’s more important is how does this reflect on our lives. I myself have lost a loved one, and pretty much can relate to this movie since I also had to seek consolation and find the willingness to move on, and that’s where the remembrances of the Count come to play since we tend to remember most the best moments.
Then there’s the subplot with Hana’s love relationship with a Sikh called Kip (Naveen Andrews) a bomb-disposal expert who arrives with another colleague to the villa to ensure protection there. Many people confuse themselves since they think that this part of the movie is pretty much out of place, and its just there to fill time. I seriously disagree. I believe this subplot is like an alternative or continuance of the main idea of the movie, since we see from a woman’s point of view on how she manages to overcome the loss of her loved one and find someone to help overcome her anguishes, also again reflecting our lives and our experiences. So what I believe is that both sides of the coin are explored in the movie, and I applaud it for its efforts.
I praise Anthony Minghella for writing the script, and directing this flick, since he manages to pull off such a complicated yet beautiful movie like this one. Splendidly photographed by John Seale, the film’s photography will bring us some similar memories of Lawrence of Arabia in several occasions. The film, though it gives out its message, doesn’t answer any questions, and many people will find that a problem, but in my opinion, the film leaves this territory unanswered so that we can fill in the few remaining blanks with our thoughts, our personal experiences, and what we learned from the movie experience. That in my opinion is the main thins that makes this film great.
The performances were fantastic. Ralph Fiennes eclipses his performance in Schindler’s List, and it’s easily the finest performance of his career. Juliette Binoche, gosh, I always had a thing for her ever since I saw her in The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, and she shines in this movie. Willem Dafoe still proves why he’s one of the most underrated actors out there (despite his Oscar-nominated role in Platoon) and why he’s always fun to watch. Boy, Kristin Scott Thomas is sizzling and also at times haunting, and at times left me with my mouth open. The rest of the supporting cast was also great, well up to standards.In the end, forget whatever bullshit they’ve told you about this movie and just go watch it. The trick is not expecting much of it, much less expect a lot of the “usual action,” just let the film flow into your mind and your veins and you’ll see how rewarding it is. Repeated viewings are recommended, but the experience is still the same. See it. (4.5-5)
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=665&reviewer=235
originally posted: 07/18/02 11:29:35