Ted Kramer's wife leaves her husband, allowing for a lost bond to be rediscovered between Ted and his son, Billy. But a heated custody battle ensues over the divorced couple's son, deepening the wounds left by the separation.
October 1944 in war torn Italy. Hana, a French-Canadian nurse working in a mobile army medical unit, feels like everything she loves in life dies on her. Because of the difficulty traveling and the dangers, especially as the landscape is still heavily booby-trapped with mines, Hana volunteers to stay behind at a church to care solely for a dying semi-amnesiac patient, who is badly burned and disfigured. She agrees to catch up to the rest of the unit after he dies. All the patient remembers is that he is English and that he is married. Their solitude is disrupted with the arrival at the church of fellow Canadian David Caravaggio, part of the Intelligence Service, who is certain that he knows the patient as a man who cooperated with the Germans. Caravaggio believes that the patient's memory is largely in tact and that he is running away from his past, in part or in its entirety. The patient does open up about his past, all surrounding his work as a cartographer in North Africa, which ... Written by
'The English Patient' can rightly be compared to the films of David Lean, whose sweeping epics such as 'Lawrence of Arabia' and 'Bridge on the River Kwai' must have inspired the director Anthony Minghella. The film is beautifully photographed, and like 'Lawrence', is set in Northern Africa, but during the second world war. The story is complex, but it boils down to a forbidden love between an opinionated and often difficult archeologist played by Ralph Fiennes and a married woman played by Kristin Scott Thomas.
The story, based on a novel by Michael Ondaatje, is told in flashbacks by Fiennes' Count Laszlo de Almasy - the titular character. The fact that his name does not sound like he's English plays a key role in what unfolds. He has been badly burned in a plane crash, occurring just as the film opens, and is being cared for back in Europe by Hana, an army nurse played by Juliette Binoche. What makes this story epic is the vast sweep across place and time, and the development of characters beyond that of the two ill-fated lovers. The film makes clear that true love and passion, even with dreaded consequences, can make life worth living, or worth dying for. If you're a romantic at heart, and can appreciate a film without the standard happy endings and simple moral codes, you may find that 'The English Patient' speaks directly to you.
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