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Movie Reviews

Captain Corelli's Mandolin  
Cast

Nicolas Cage (Captain Antonio Corelli)

Penelope Cruz (Pelagia)

John Hurt (Dr. Iannis)

Christian Bale (Mandras)

Directed by John Madden

Written by Shawn Slovo, based on the novel by Louis de Bernieres

Rated R for violence, sexuality, nudity, and language

Running Time: 127 minutes Distributed by Miramax

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin has some flaws, but it works for the most part as a romantic war drama. The film takes place in the small Greek village of Cephallonia during World War II. The narrator of the film is the village doctor, Iannis (Hurt), who is also teaching his young daughter, Pelagia (Cruz), medicine. The society of Cephallonia is the type where everybody knows one another and when there is a dance, all are invited. Italy invades the coast and many Italian soldiers move into the village. The locals see the Italians as the enemy, but also in a different perspective because of their passion for having fun. Each home is ordered to have one Italian soldier move in with the current family. Dr. Iannis and his daughter are given the tenderhearted Captain Antonio Corelli (Cage) to join their household. Corelli is a joyful being that has a talent of playing the mandolin. The captain tries to be admirable to Pelagia, but she despises Corelli and his likeable personality. Over time, the two opposites’ charms attract and feelings are created. Knowing the consequences, both look for a way to be together and accepted by all.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is a well-done film that is also in some ways typical. I had problems with some of the historical accuracy and certain plot points, but I overall enjoyed this film.

Shawn Slovo adapted the script from the novel Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres. There are moments in the script were certain objectives or characters are presented with hardly any depth, but I sense that the book had the details and depth. Examples are some of Corelli’s men and a strange occurrence that happens at the end of the film. However, the lead characters are given a lot of screen time to develop for the audience. The script flows over a lot of time, but I didn’t believe that the scenes were rushed or boring. I was interested in every scene. There are some problems with a bit of the historical war accuracy, in which some of the events were centered on the love story. Kind of like in this summer’s Pearl Harbor, but this film balances the love and war a lot better, along with being a far better overall film. Lastly, I really thought that the decision of having Pelegia’s father voice-over narration only in the beginning and end of the film was very smart.


Shakespeare in Love director John Madden does a crafty job of mixing the love story with beautiful visuals. Madden’s few love scenes were passionate and his war scenes were effective. However, I found the key to Madden’s direction was his sequencing and flow. The film moves well with round precision. I believe that John Madden is an artistic director that will continue to deliver good work with love dramas like this one and Shakespeare in Love.

In collaboration with Madden, the great John Toll shows why he is one of the best with cinematography. From the beaches, to the trees, to the village, the cinematography in this film is wonderful. Toll’s previous credits include Legends of the Fall and Braveheart. He deserves a lot of praise for his work in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

Nicolas Cage takes on the role as the happy Italian captain, Corelli. I thought that Cage did a okay job in this film, but for some reason I just couldn’t stop seeing Nicolas Cage and not Corelli. He did hold his Italian dialect throughout the whole film, but I don’t know if it was his accent or dialogue that phased me. Cage also learned and played the mandolin very well in this film. I really like Nicolas Cage, but I don’t know if he was a good cast as Corelli. Last January there was a revelation when Keanu Reeves delivered some good acting in the psychological thriller The Gift. It is now August, and there is a small revelation for Penelope Cruz in this film. This was the first acting that I seen by her that is somewhat good. She holds her own finally with some emotion and she gets rid of her continuous sarcasm. Rising star Christian Bale continues to do good work as the Greek rebel Mandras. From what I have noticed in Bale’s last few roles; he is a very versatile in his acting range. The brilliant John Hurt, as Pelagia’s father, delivers the best performance in the film. Hurt sports a big mustache, but calls for the most presence and originality of this film’s entire acting cast.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is probably a lot better a book than a movie. However the film is enjoyable, and I believe most adult audiences will be pleased.

Report Card Grade: B-

08/27/01

Beastman’s Movie Reviews

Copyright, 2001 Joseph C. Tucker

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