The English Patient (1996)

In 1996 The English Patient took home the award for Best Picture at the 69th Academy Awards. It has taken 26 years for me to finally sit down and watch this 2:42 movie, which occurred last night. I avoided this film because it didn’t seem interesting or appealing to me in any way, shape or form. Despite winning numerous awards and headlined by a brilliant cast, including Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Willem Dafoe, and Juliette Binoche, the film never struck me as something I’d enjoy. 

After spending an evening deeply entrenched in the deserts of Africa and the destroyed monasteries of Italy, I was a sucker for the hot and steamy affair of our two leads, Almasy (Fiennes) and Katherine (Thomas). While we spend half the film watching Almasy lay in a bed recovering from his crash wounds, the other half is spent building up a love affair for the ages. You could just sum up the passion between the lovers by dubbing it a forbidden romance, yet it was so much more than that. It was almost like destiny brought them together. 

These two really understand each other and turn out to be the happiest thing in each other’s life. When things take a turn, and the breakup ensues, the pair struggle to move on. Almasy decides to become a psycho ex-lover, but he can’t deny his feelings for the love of his life while the world embarks on another world war. 

I didn’t care much for the story when we find ourselves holed up in a broken-down building serving as a makeshift care unit. Almasy can’t remember who he is, yet he can remember the story of mapping the deserts and the century’s grandest love affair. Even though we find the other main characters trying to figure out who this guy is, the story branches off to focus on Hana’s life (Binoche), who tends to lose everyone she is close to. There’s even enough time for Hana to have a love interest, which adds to the already bloated runtime. 

The majority of The English Patient is focused on Almasy, his discoveries, and his love affair. The other main characters get plenty of time and buildup that it’s easy to get invested in their stories. However, the main characters are where all the action is. I applaud many aspects of this film, but it is safe to say I won’t be watching this one anytime soon or ever again. 6/10

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