The English Patient (US, 1996)

Flawed romance

I’ve not read the novel so can’t comment upon the efficacy of this adaptation but it seems flawed. As in my post on Tamara Drewe, I had to (try to) suspend any class prejudice when dealing with characters who are posh but I think I was genuinely unconvinced by elements of the relationships between the protagonists. When I first saw the film, Minghella’s direction seemed functional or designed for David Lean-like spectacle. Maybe I’ve mellowed, but that bothered me less this time. And this time the power of the romance did ‘get’ to me, the irrationality and absoluteness of intense passion did convince. With a cast of Ralph Fiennes and Juliet Binoche (both massive favourites of mine) it would be difficult to fail to convey intensity; and Minghella does use locations well.

Now the film hasn’t changed in the seven years since I originally saw the movie, when I didn’t like it, so differences in perception are obviously my own. In that time I’ve been divorced and had relationships with other women. Those events will, inevitably, affect my understanding of the film. Indeed, the power of cinema surely resides, in part, in its immutability and so it remains a touchstone whilst the spectator changes. And so, in this we can, maybe, understand better who we are, and, who we were.

Bechdel test: Pass (13/9)
Protagonist: Male (5/11)
Lacey test: Pass (0/4)

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