John Madden directs Penélope Cruz, Nicolas Cage and John Hurt in this adaptation of Louis de Bernières’ literary sensation about a WWII romance in occupied Greece.
A whipping boy for critics and book fans on release, this turned me off on initial visit. There’s a lot wrong. A Greek set prestige production with glaringly barely any Greek actors in speaking parts. The beats of the novel stuck to even when they do not flow cinematically. Which is strange as the more adult, tragic edge of the hit novel has been allegedly softened. And two very ungainly performances from guaranteed unrestrained screen chewers Cage and Christian Bale. These boys don’t do subtle. And yet on this lazy, half arsed rewatch… it is Cage’s warm, largesse that saves it. The film looks gorgeous, Cruz is sympathetic… why wouldn’t she be woo’d by the wild eye, unashamed ham bristling with oomph? “Bella bambina at-a 2 o’clock!” I was this time. Not the write-off you once thought. Don’t treat it as an Oscar contender, watch an easy peel, mindless pap weepie. It hits a nice saccharine spot. Well done, Nic.
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