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movie and film reviews

A M B U S H   M a g   2 0 0 0 - V O L U M E   1 5 - I S S U E   7  

Real to Real
by Chuc LaVenture

The English Patient--The Oscar Pick

Well, I have to say I had no idea, when I chose The English Patient, that it would be such a fortuitous choice. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about my selection. A movie about a dying burn victim amnesiac, and three hours long? I came away from the movie, though, with a greater faith in the human heart, and isn't film a medium that should deepen or change one's perspective of the world?

The story centers on the lives of a Canadian nurse (Juliette Binoche) and a member of the British Royal Geographic Society (Ralph Fiennes). They come together through the misfortunes of war. She is traveling with a mobile medical unit and he has been shot down and badly burned in the accident, ending up in her medical unit.

The true meat of this story is that during his convalescence they both come to understand love. She, who believes that anyone she loves will die, through her relationship with Kip (Naveen Andrews), a Sikh bomb disposal expert, and he through his reclaiming of his past, with the help of Caravaggio (Willem Defoe), an intelligence officer with a shady past whose plan was to find Almasy and kill him, as he believed Almasy responsible for the loss, through torture, of his thumbs.

There is much subtlety, irony, and complexity in this film. One wonderfully subtle scene involves the relationship between a member of Almasy's team and an Arab boy who works with the team.

The most ironic aspect of the film, in my opinion, is the final scene between Hana (Juliette Binoche) and Almasy. See the film.

What makes for the most interesting aspect of the film is the complexity of the time juxtapositions. She comes to her revelation in the present, he comes to his in his past. Michael Ondaatje, author of the book from which the movie was taken, must have written a very surreal novel. The editing, as we pass from time period to time period is seamless and what could have been a disjointed, confusing story line is made meaningful. Writer-director Anthony Minghella has given us a visually expansive, intricate love story that ends in redemption.

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