The English Patient Movie Review: When Were You Most Happy?

Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient is an epic war drama with two romances thrown in for spice. All three parts: the war drama, the romance in the past, and the romance in the present, will keep you on the edge of your seat. Ralph Fiennes plays the English Patient (a highly fictionalized László Almásy –  a famous Hungarian cartographer). 

László has been shot down in his plane and received life-threatening burns all over his body. Hana (Juliette Binoche) is his French-Canadian nurse who has decided to leave her convoy and tend to her dying patient in a peaceful, though ransacked, building along the way.

Katherine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas) was László’s lover during World War II. She was married to Geoffrey Clifton (Colin Firth) at the time, who assists various governments with aerial photographs of the landscape. So begins more than 40 amazing transitions between the present and the past. In the present, while Hana takes care of the English Patient, she is falling in love with Lieutenant Kip, a Sihk in the British Indian Army who is in the area defusing bombs.

Last, László must contend with a visitor, Caravaggio (Willem DaFoe), who was tortured during the war, including having his thumbs cut off. He has already killed two of the people involved in his torture, but now he is looking for the last person responsible – whomever gave the Germans maps of Cairo, and Caravaggio believes László may be the man he is after.

The direction and editing are absolutely seamless when they come to wending their way through several plots that all lead to the same spot in the present. There is no surprise this film won Best Picture. You deserve to have a copy of The English Patient on your shelf, and you deserve to watch it while hopelessly in love.

Buy The English Patient, winner of 9 Academy Awards including Best Picture
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Greg Hammond

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