*The English Patient (1996)*

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Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche, Naveen Andrews, Willem Dafoe, Colin Firth

Director: Anthony Minghella

Summary: A man dying from third-degree burns remembers a tragic wartime romance

Other Nominations: Director*, Actor (Fiennes), Actress (Scott Thomas), Supporting Actress (Binoche)*, Adapted Screenplay, Original Dramatic Score*, Sound*, Art Direction*, Cinematography*, Costume Design*, Film Editing*

I’m not going to go full Elaine on it and say it sucked, but this was a very weak for a Best Picture winner. The biggest issue (besides it being painfully slow) is that it’s primarily a love story yet there’s zero spark in this brooding romance. I didn’t see a lot of chemistry between Fiennes and Scott Thomas (even if I like her and Binoche’s performance in the movie in general), and it doesn’t help that the movie lacks the focus necessary to really develop it as it has too many subplots for its own good. For a 162 minute movie with a romance at its core, it somehow rushes the attraction between the characters and doesn’t put a lot of depth into the female love interest. It either needed to be a 3 and a half hour uber epic (as if it wasn’t dull enough a lot of the time) or it needed to be a smaller, tighter story focusing mostly on the main romance and the main themes without meandering so much.

I will say thought that the cinematography and locations are clear highlights (this is a beautiful looking and extremely polished film) and the themes (especially those about borders, nationality and morality) work where love stories falter. The movie has enough merits for me to like it over similar films (such as Out of Africa), but it was too prestige movie-style dour and unfocused for me to really be interested in it.

Rating: C

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