Thursday, May 30, 2013
Cliched, over sentimental war romance
I saw this last night on TV. The fact that I had never seen it earlier and that John Madden who did Shakespeare in Love directed it, piqued my interest! Anyway, here's the review.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001) is a 5 star casted romantic war drama set in an unspecified island in Greece, with lots of blood and guts and mortar shells blowing up ten yards to the left of the target. The Greeks are fighting the Italians to defend their territory, which obviously has no strategic importance whatsoever to anyone.
Penelope Cruz plays the female lead Pelagia for two hours without ever smiling although she first falls in love and gets betrothed to a local Greek Mandras, played by Christian Bale. He immediately leaves to fight for his homeland. She writes him 100 love letters without getting an answer. Later when he does show up he confesses he never learned to read and so couldn’t respond. Even a Greek peasant might have gotten someone else to read the letters to him, and take down a reply by dictation.
After Pelagia is thoroughly upset at having been loved and left, she falls in love with an Italian soldier Captain Corelli played by Nicolas Cage. The love story is apparently adapted by someone who had read a review of Louis de Berniers' novel. Then the Germans come in on the side of the Italians. Obviously the director doesn’t like anything German and makes the characters into cartoons of stupidity. The German troops treacherously machine gun down a band of Greeks. Mandras, the original fiancee rescues the dying second fiancee Corelli, because he loves Pelagia and wants her to love him back.
Most of the humor came from the older generation, especially Pelagia's doctor father played by John Hunt with enough mustachios to hide the whole cast. The love scenes were boring and the battle scenes weak, so I spent most of the two hours trying to visualize what the script looked like, with tiny bits of dialog separated by long involved descriptions of camera angles. I also looked at the elaborate sets which were used for perhaps 10 second each, thinking how they were different from a good Shakespeare production by a modern company that uses a bare stage and only those props they can carry with them. Unless you are die-hard Penelope fan, skip this.