Review: The English Patient (1996)


Sometimes I really to agree with Elaine from Seinfeld, this is one of those times!

Screenplay By: Anthony Minghella
Directed By: Anthony Minghella

Quit telling your stupid story about the stupid desert and just die already!

Seinfeld has never steered me wrong before, and that tenet holds true with The English Patient. I have never been privy to a more soulless, vapid love story as devoid of emotion as The English Patient was. I waited all movie long for one reason, just one reason to care, about anything or anyone. Sadly, I was never given a reason to care, but I was given plenty of longing shots where love is implied, but if that is love then I want no part of it. If time passes the way I desire The English Patient will be reduced to the big screen Cinemax skin flick that it is.

It’s quite upsetting to see actors like Juliette Binoche, Ralph Fiennes, Willem Dafoe, and Kristen Scott Thomas struggle to try and add something to their characters, to make any sense of a story that is so bland that it makes a loaf of bread seem fascinating. Oh, they try, but not even they can overcome such a bland and uninteresting story. I know I sound like a broken record already, but the blandness of the supposed love on display in The English Patient isn’t easy to get past. The love in The English Patient is the fulcrum of the entire story, it drives it forward and backward. The problem then becomes that the impetus to move your story isn’t interesting and ends up not mattering to the viewer. When that is the case nothing else that the film tries to accomplish leaves a lasting impression or matters because the central pillar of the story crumbled unto itself. Bland, bland, bland love translates to a boring, boring, boring movie that isn’t interesting or a fruitful experience.

I guess The English Patient did look beautiful, but a lot of movies look beautiful. When you have to struggle to find good things to say about a movie you know you are watching either a very bad movie or a mediocre one. The English Patient is the very definition of a mediocre movie. It puts just enough pieces in place so as to not be a bad movie, but it never progresses beyond its own imposed mediocrity and fails to sustain the very minor moments of interest that occur from time to time. I’m sure fans of sappy love stories will watch The English Patient and be wowed beyond words, but people who expect their love stories to be a bit better than mediocre should avoid The English Patient and listen to Elaine Benes and Seinfeld, words to live by my friends.



Bill Thompson

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