Only 22 years after it was made, I managed to watch The English patient (1996), directed by Anthony Minghella.
Both the Tuscan and African landscapes and images are gorgeous. They even used real vintage airplanes for some spectacular aerial shots!
All the actors are incredibly good. Ralph Fiennes (who only one year before played the main protagonist in Bigelow’s masterpiece Strange days), Juliette Binoche (I saw here recently in the 2017 Ghost in the shell), Kristin Scott Thomas (who just appeared in Darkest hour), Colin Firth (he’s amazing in A single man by Tom Ford)… they are all great.
The soundtrack by Gabriel Yared is fantastic.
The cinematography is good, both in the sun-burnt landscapes of Africa and within the humid walls of the monastery in Pienza.
But… why did this movie win the Oscars both for best picture and for best director, given that it was competing against Fargo by the Coen brothers??? Minghella does not excel in directing The English patient, and if you take out of the movie the flashback-flash forward ‘trick’, it seems to me that very little remains. Without the dynamism given by the continuous jumps between the present with Juliette Binoche taking care of the dying Fiennes and the past with the latter together with Kristin Scott Thomas, the movie is really flat. Even the plot twist, let’s say, related to Willem Defoe’s character is not powerful enough to shake the movie and its plot…
Ok, I admit it: I was not thrilled by The English patient. It’s true that romantic movies are not my favorites, but I am able to appreciate the well done ones, for instance The piano, No country for old men... what are you saying? Isn’t No country for old men a romantic movie? Oh, come on, cut me some slack!
So, would I suggest seeing The English patient? Yes and no. I would lie if I said that I want to watch it again. At the same time, there are many positive things that deserve to be seen, above all the actors’ performances. And the burnt Fiennes talking with his Voldemort voice is priceless! Ciao!