dir. John Madden
Opens Fri Aug 17
There is a certain exhilaration that comes when you realize a personally beloved novel has been chosen by the heads of Hollywood to be made into a new feature film. But the dread sets in when you realize it will star Nicolas Cage. When I first saw the trailer for Captain Corelli's Mandolin, based on Louis De Berniere's Corelli's Mandolin, I knew they could never do it justice--it was sure to be another beautiful, complex, and layered novel twisted into a movie for the masses.
Set on the Greek Island of Cephalonia during the Italian occupation in WWII, the story revolves around Pelagia, played by Spanish anorexic Penelope Cruz. We watch as she falls in love with her cute, but dumb, childhood sweetheart, Mandras (Christian Bale), and then loses faith that he will return when he runs off to fight the war with his chums. Captain Correlli (Nick Cage) and his mandolin come to live with Pelagia and her papa. Eventually, "real" war, complete with explosions and blood, invades the Island. The idyllic setting is corrupted, as the Germans turn against the Italians, and all hell breaks loose. But of course, all is resolved in a slapped-on, happy ending.
More than the scenery, the music, or even the story though, I was transfixed by each character's questionable accent. You'd think Nick Cage, having some Italian blood in him, would have mustered a better Italian accent. Instead, he ends up sounding (and looking) like Bela Lugosi in Dracula. Penelope Cruz sounds Spanish (go figure), and Christian Bale has some sort of muffled Brooklyn thing going on.
I didn't hate this movie--I was just kind of bored with it. It felt as if bits and pieces of other epics and semi-epics were photo-shopped together to give the appearance of a "fine film." There were the sad parts for sniffling, love scenes for cooing, and of course silly parts for comic relief. It takes a film like this to remind us that large, fancy, boring epics just seem out of place in 2001--even when they're based on really good books.