Demanding, yet beautiful love
Directed by: Anthony Minghella
Written by: Anthony Minghella, based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Kristin Scott Thomas
Anthony Minghella’s eye for classic beauty and Michael Ondaatje’s layered love story couldn’t be a better match in bringing a stunning work like The English Patient to the screen. Marked by the awe-inspiring, yet trying nature of the Sahara Desert, the relationships between lovers, friends and strangers develop into unexpected futures as they share an interest in the memories of one man.
While the constant time-travelling through flashbacks has a distinct ’90s feel (well, this is a ’96 film after all) and the multiple concerns of characters other than those of the central lovers – Count Almasy and Katharine Clifton – can be distracting and superfluous, The English Patient nevertheless manages to convey a powerful message of love. Despite the time (World War II), place and other external circumstances that impact on the characters and their lives, The English Patient does a surprising thing where it simultaneously uses such aspects to its advantage (to illustrate an example or expand on certain themes) whilst rejecting them as boundaries or obstacles of love. Such a film is not only thought-provoking but also cleverly constructed, presented with visual resonance and intensely real and wonderful performances.