Movie Review: The English Patient

I don’t watch many movies. I don’t have much time to, so my attempt at reviewing movies here may be a fleeting concept. However, The English Patient was on cable television recently, and I decided to sit still and watch it once again. I had seen it in the theater when it first released, but I remembered very little about it.

Releasing in 1996, twenty-one years later the few things I recalled from The English Patient struck me as being very accurate: the movie is visually striking with broad and sweeping desert landscapes (some of the action takes place in North Africa), beside hemmed in domestic glimpses of an Italian villa post-war, and occasional snatches of flowing fabric. The palette rich in tone, the soundtrack very suitable, and, it’s long.

Very long.

It clocks in at two hours and forty-two minutes (which nearly killed me–my attention span has grown increasingly short with age) but the length of the movie, combined with the powerful cast of characters and themes of love and longing, and loss and war, work well together.

There is a certain unsettled emotion–an ache–the movie creates in a viewer–a longing that is nearly tangible as the mystery of a badly burned plane crash survivor unfolds in flashbacks while a nurse (herself having recently faced tragedy) tends his wounds with great tenderness. I can’t go into too much here without spoiling, but there is danger, romance, tragedy–all the components of a great movie.

The acting is very good–passionate, even–and fits the movie’s script well.

Cast members include: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Kristin Scott Thomas, Naveen Andrews, Colin Firth, and many others.

The movie is based on the Booker Prize-winning novel by the same name (available for sale here, here, and here), written by Michael Ondaatje.

Got three hours? Check out this moving drama.

Read Roger Ebert’s review from when the movie premiered here.


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