The English Patient Review
The English Patient is a 1996 drama romance film directed by Anthony Minghella and starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche. The film received critical praise and won the Academy Award for Best Picture along with 8 other categories making it one of the most successful films in Oscar history.
It is based on the book of the same name and it is set in WWII days. It follows Hana, a nurse who looks after a burnt man played by Ralph Fiennes and it jumps in time to also show his story that lead to this time period. Now, the story is my major issue with this movie. It is too melodramatic to me personally and it was at certain times way too emotionally manipulative. It is well handled and certainly well filmed, but it is too Oscar-baity. And it is too slow and often boring. However, the script is nonetheless sophisticated and very mature and it is also filled with some really warm and touching moments, while also being quite romantic at times.
The characters are solid, but they should have been better developed and more sophisticated, especially having in mind the movie’s sophistication. Almasy is good and he has his moments, but he’s not that memorable. Hana on the contrary is excellent. She is such a grounded, but also likable and genuinely charming character that you can’t help but love. And she had the movie’s best scenes, especially in the end and beginning.
The acting is terrific across the board naturally. Ralph Fiennes has rarely been better, Kristin Scott Thomas and Willem Dafoe are both superb, but it is Juliette Binoche who is of course magnificent and she gave the finest performance that rightfully claimed her a Best Supporting Actress Award. She is one of the standouts here.
The movie is technically splendid. The cinematography is just fantastic with some gorgeous scenery at display with the aerial shots being the most impressive. The score is also really beautiful and quite moving at times, lifting the more emotional scenes to greater levels. And the movie is emotionally investing, albeit too manipulative near the end. Also the tone is really mature and not too depressive despite its nature. It has some really wonderful romantic as well as touching scenes. It also has a fine dialogue and a respectable conclusion.
The movie succeeds due to terrific editing. The English Patient is so deftly edited that it really is quite an accomplishment on Walter Murch’s behalf. He did an extraordinary job here which is admirable having in mind the movie’s difficult time jumping structure. But the movie flows smoothly and the editing is the biggest contributor to its polished feel. It is a shame that it is too slow and too dragged out with a sometimes boring outcome.
As for its awards, I don’t agree with its Best Picture Oscar of course and the movie is a typical Oscar-bait that was quite successful in that goal. But it did deserve the award for Binoche and the technical categories are all very much deserved. The Score and Cinematography Oscars are the most deserved.