Captain Corelli's Mandolin

"Good"

Captain Corelli's Mandolin Review


Captain Corelli's Mandolin is one of those films that most people can't in good conscience say they hate. In the tradition of films like Waking Ned Devine and Cinema Paradiso, it's a sweet but flawed wartime romance with enough gorgeous scenery and quaint villagers to choke a horse. It innocuously celebrates the triumph of true love, exalts the rise of an everyman hero, toasts art's ability to eclipse the horrors of life, and at times is even a visual feast (Miramax should charge the Greek tourist board royalties).

Adapted from the best-selling novel by Louis de Bernieres, the story begins in 1941. Dr. Iannis (John Hurt) and his lovely daughter Pelagia (Penélope Cruz) live on the idyllic Greek isle of Cephallonia, where Pelagia is betrothed to fisherman Mandras (Christian Bale) who's eager to prove his mettle in the growing war in Europe. He goes off to fight for Greece against the Italians; in the meantime, the Italians invade his home island. But these Italians aren't scary, Mussolini types; they're jolly, good-natured and even kind. According to them, Italians are best at "eating, singing, and making love," which the filmmakers set out to prove to no end in this movie. Let's put it this way: Puccini gets some serious screen time.

When the opera-crooning Captain Corelli (Nicholas Cage) -- beloved mandolin in hand -- is placed in Dr. Iannis' home as a boarder, he and Pelagia fall in love. All seems wonderful, especially when word arrives that Mussolini has surrendered to the Allies. The Italians are ready to go home, but in handing over their arms to the still-fighting Germans, some of the fun-loving Italians get shot. Soon, Corelli and his men are working with the resistance to help liberate the island and avenge their brothers' deaths. But, can these few men defeat a huge Nazi onslaught? Can true love prevail?

Don't be so certain of the answer, but don't expect miracles either. Films about love and war should have pathos and grit, and Corelli's gives us smatterings of each. Unfortunately, those glimmers are smothered by incredulously bad, syrupy dialogue ("I feel I could've watched you forever.") and ludicrous -- almost comic -- accents. The performances are all passable, but Americans and Brits posing as Italians and Greeks can be too much to bear at times. Cage seems to be channeling a toned-down Roberto Benigni, exclaiming "Bella bambina!" every time he catches sight of Cruz. And Christian Bale as a swarthy Greek revolutionary? That casting decision is pure comedy.

While it's not remotely as bad as Pearl Harbor, the war here is basically a nice device to teach us the important lesson of acceptance. We're all not so different (well, except maybe the Nazis, but everyone hates them, right?). Greeks, Italians, and Germans can remarkably understand each other... in their accented English, of course, and these cultural exchanges are where the film's painless platitudes come to light.

Oddly, Corelli's does provide quite a bit of gruesome battle footage and its fair share of brutal death, which gives you quite a jolt after watching an hour of bucolic harmony, Italians singing happily, lovers cooing at one another, and "Bella bambina!" It's a welcome shock back to reality.

But with the billing of "From the director of Shakespeare in Love," one would hope John Madden's follow-up would have touted the same witty, incisive and radiant dialogue as its predecessor, but this script is made of lead. Instead of clever, we're treated to cliché with a thick artsy varnish, and there's certainly a big audience for that. Too bad he couldn't get Tom Stoppard to bail him out this time.

One is the loneliest number.



Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Facts and Figures

Run time: 131 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th August 2001

Box Office USA: $25.3M

Box Office Worldwide: $62.1M

Budget: $57M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Miramax Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 29%
Fresh: 33 Rotten: 82

IMDB: 5.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Captain Antonio Corelli, as Pelagia, as Mandras, as Drosoula, as Mr. Stamatis, as Mrs. Stamatis, Mihalis Giannatos as Kokolios, as Father Aresenios, Pietro Sarubbi as Velisarios, Viki Maragaki as Eleni, Pelagia's Friend, as Dr. Iannis

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.