Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001)
Main cast: Nicolas Cage (Captain Antonio Corelli), PenÚlope Cruz (Pelagia), John Hurt (Dr Iannis), Christian Bale (Mandras), and David Morrissey (Captain Weber)
Director: John Madden
Oh, this is Miramax's yearly offering of its sweeping, historical love drama. It's a tradition that started when that dreaded The English Patient won that Academy Award for Best Picture, and now Miramax spends every year spewing out this type of movies. Alas, these historical weepie offerings are starting to look like a bad case of diarrhea, if last year's lacklustre Chocolat and this year's Captain Corelli's Mandolin are anything to go by. This one, with sweeping photographic scenery of seas and old houses and white clean sands and all, is nice to look at. But there's just no chemistry between Cage and Cruz. Add in what seems like a zillion daffy accents in a supposedly homogenous island population, Cage's irritating "I stare you to death" style of acting, and Cruz's "I pout you to death" style of acting, and this movie couldn't end for me soon enough.
Pellagra, sorry, Pelagia - oh what the heck, I'll call her Pellagra - Pellagra is a happy, simple, pouty woman who speaks in a very different accent from her father, Dr Iannis. She happily runs around the Greek isle of Cephallonia when the Italian Nazi troops storm the island. It's 1940, and World War 2 is about to brew. Never mind that these men are Nazis, you know. The film folks choose to gloss over any moral dilemma the characters may face by making these soldiers sing, woo, and eat everybody's food like a bunch of worshippers of Dionysius. These aren't soldiers, people, they are just happy, trippy bards and wastrels wearing uniforms that look like Nazi uniforms. Pellagra soon betrays her Resistance boyfriend (hey, he's uneducated, not like Corelli, the Nazi boss, who can sing and stare like he's undressing you in his mind, yo).
John Hurts mumbles some hackneyed feel good mantra. Cage stares. Cruz pouts. Repeat and rinse and repeat and rinse and repeat and rinse until my gorge rises and I feel like throwing up.
But the greatest flaw of this movie is its ridiculous dumbing down of the premise. This is a story of a woman who values life falling for a Nazi. How about some moral dilemma, soul searching, or anything remotely emotional here? All I get instead is Cage's Corelli being portrayed like some misunderstood bard of the century, and nobody has any problems giving his Nazi troops medicine, feeding them, or anything, even if they know their young men are fighting in the Resistance. Captain Corelli's Mandolin chickens out on hard issues, and instead substitutes nice sceneries and pretty words for hard-hitting issues of relationships. This is not a romance story, not even close. This is a dumb movie of a man with scary eyes and a woman with scary pout terrifying me witless with their zombiefied acting.
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