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:: Captain Corelli's Mandolin

John Madden’s direction of the best-selling novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres is flat and uninspiring. Set on a most beautiful Greek island, it is soft-centred and lacking in the emotional depth available in a love story set during World War II.

Pelagia (Penelope Cruz) is the headstrong daughter of the local doctor (John Hurt). She experiences her first love (Christian Bale) at the opening of the film, but no amount of fake tan can turn him into a Greek fisherman. At the outbreak of World War II they become engaged. Pelagia’s fiance runs off the join the resistance, leaving her frightened for his life and vulnerable. Mussolini has become an ally to Nazi Germany and the Italian Army, under the watchful eye of the Nazi’s, takes over the island.

Nicholas Cage is the romantic, music-obsessed Italian officer who is billeted with Pelagia and her father. The Italian joy of life doesn’t naturally emanate from Cage. He isn’t able to emit the depth passion of an Italian, so that his performance just doesn’t ring true. Cruz plays her role as the wistful and intelligent Greek girl well. Sparks don’t seem to fly between Cruz and Cage, but they’re on a Greek island and the world is falling around them so you know its got to happen – they fall in love. As the Italians take over more control of the island their love develops. The Greek fisherman returns and has lost his innocence as well as the love of Pelagia.

The warmth and simplicity of lifestyle that the Greeks have lead for generations is the only thing that shines in this film Unfortunately by the end it is destroyed metaphorically and physically by the war. This mediocre love story is for anyone who reads Mills and Boon novels. Send them along. They’ll love it.

Screening at the Westgarth Theatre, Cinema Nova, Rivoli Cinemas, Dendy Brighton and the Classic Cinemas.