Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche
Director: Anthony Minghella
Running Time: 162 mins
The English Patient is a British film about a nurse who cares for a man severely wounded in a plane crash, who reminisces about a love he found during the Second World War.
It may be very long and play out at the most patient of paces, The English Patient is one of the most majestic and elegant films that you’ll ever see, complete with all of the grandeur of an epic wartime romantic drama that only brings greater romantic power to its incredible story.
However, what’s most interesting about the film is the way it uses a classic story of love and romance in a double-layered effect that plays into the lives of characters in different periods of the war.
Playing out as a story that changes time periods and focus over the course of the film, we follow both the epic romance between Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas in the deserts of North Africa, as well as the story of a young nurse (Juliette Binoche) who cares for Fiennes years later after he was almost killed in a plane crash.
That narrative structure works so many wonders through the film, including an incredible way of paralleling two different romances that seems to speak to the enduring power of love in all its guises, but the screenplay also throws up some fascinating and intriguing ambiguities that give the film a hugely impressive circularity.
I wouldn’t wish to spoil anything here, but it’s sufficient to say that The English Patient is so much more than just a romantic period drama, with intricate storytelling that brings exhilarating drama and emotion to the table, particularly as the film draws to a spectacular close.
Staying on a romantic level, however, there’s no looking past the beauty of the love story between Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas. In tandem with the film’s elegant visual style, the majesty of its desert setting and the beauty of its epic score, this is as passionate and emotionally resonant as film romances get.
Fiennes and Scott Thomas are incredible together, both embodying the debonair ideal of what you might call a ‘holiday romance’, but also bringing real emotional depth to their on-screen relationship that makes you fall deeply in love with both of them as the story unfolds.
That level of emotional intensity means that every step of the story is tinged with a note on the unending power of love, wonderfully integrated with an often emotionally challenging wartime tale.
As a result, The English Patient really is one of the most majestic and emotionally captivating films that you’ll see. Visually, it’s a masterpiece, and the film uses its cinematic style and setting to great effect, while it also features some beautiful performances that only heighten the story’s immense emotional depth.
But above all, it’s the way that the film tells its story that makes it so special. The English Patient is so much more than just another romantic drama, using a brilliantly intricate narrative to incredible effect, and that’s why I’m giving the film a 7.7 overall.