March 9, 2013: The English Patient (1996)


Cast and Crew: Anthony Minghella (Director); Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Willem Dafoe, Juliette Binoche, Naveen Andrews, Colin Firth

What It’s About: Desert explorer Almásy (Ralph Fiennes) is a severely burned mystery patient whose love affair with Katharine (Kristin Scott Thomas) emerges through a series of devastating flashbacks.  A mysterious figure from his past life, Caravaggio (Willem Dafoe) lurks around the edges, but the real present action of the film centers around bereaved nurse Hana (Juliette Binoche) and her relationship with Sikh unexploded-bombs expert Kip (Naveen Andrews, whom you may know as Sayid from Lost).  Based on Michael Ondaatje’s novel, and probably improving its coherence, this Academy favorite is a sweeping, heart-rending epic production.   It feels a bit like Minghella said “let’s remake Lawrence of Arabia, but as a romance.”

Watch it Today?: Juliette Binoche, the nurse who is the emotional center of the film, turns 50 years old today.  The actress made her name internationally with improbable film renditions of postmodern novels (this one and, almost a decade earlier, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), based on a Kundera novel).  She is versatile, interesting actress, less waifish than Audrey Hepburn or Tautou; give one of her films a watch today!

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