Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
United Kingdom/France/USA, 2001. Universal Pictures, StudioCanal, Miramax, Working Title Films, Free Range Films, Canal+. Screenplay by Shawn Slovo, based on the novel by Louis de Bernieres. Cinematography by John Toll. Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Mark Huffam, Kevin Loader. Music by Stephen Warbeck. Production Design by Jim Clay. Costume Design by Alexandra Byrne. Film Editing by Mick Audsley
Simplistic adaptation of Louis De Bernieres’ novel about romance between enemies on an occupied Greek island in World War II, with lives against the backdrop of oppression reduced to constant close-ups of two Hollywood stars making eyes at each other. As Pelagia, the film’s main heroine, Penelope Cruz does an adequate job, but with a weak script behind her that offers her character no finely tuned depth there’s very little for her to do but look pretty and deliver her few good lines well. Nicolas Cage is sadly ridiculous as the Captain of the Italian troops sent in by Mussolini to watch over the dissident Greeks after they’ve defeated them in Albania, and his character’s titular instrumentation is reduced to a couple of handy musical scenes. Other than that, it’s a fairly enjoyable sudser, with appropriately beautiful cinematography of Cephallonia and a standout performance by John Hurt as the Jedi-wise Doctor and father to Pelagia. Greek culture is captured satisfactorily, though with a bit too much effort by the production designers, but the real awkwardness comes from the bad casting of Christian Bale, who never makes his Greek accent stick, his Greek dancing work nor his character seem like anything crucial to the story. Also features a great performance by the perennial Greek movie star Irene Papas.