Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001)

reviewed by
Steve Rhodes

A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****):  **

Eighty minutes. That's how long it takes before CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN ever comes alive. Still, that is ten minutes sooner than PEARL HARBOR. Both pictures suffer from making their audiences wait and then giving them very little reward for their patience. Based on Louis de Bernières's novel -- which I am told is quite good, the movie is directed by SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE's John Madden. With Madden's languid pacing and Shawn Slovo's sappy script, the movie begs for a one word review: Yuck.

Nicolas Cage, as Captain Antonio Corelli, and Penélope Cruz (ALL THE PRETTY HORSES), as Pelagia, deliver two of the least interesting performances of their careers. Corelli is a happy-go-lucky Italian soldier, part of a force that is occupying a Greek island during World War II. Most of the movie exists in a fairy tale world in which the occupying forces sing and dance while the Greeks treat them rudely. Corelli, although he is a captain, has never in his entire life even aimed a gun at anyone. He is the founder of his regiment's opera club so he leads his troops in songfests.

Pelagia, the island beauty, is betrothed to Mandras (Christian Bale, AMERICAN PSYCHO), who leaves to fight with the Greek partisans. Madras likes to beat his chest while saying corny things like, "I don't know how to tell you what's inside here."

Pelagia, of course, will eventually fall in love with the Captain Corelli. When she complains that in a war there is nothing to sing about, he explains, "I've always found something in life worth singing about, and for that I do not apologize." Keep your eyes open because, if you blink, you'll miss their love scene.

"The war we thought would never end is over," Pelagia's relieved father (John Hurt) tells us in voice-over near the end. I felt the same way about the movie.

CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN runs a long 2:09. It is rated R for "some violence, sexuality and language" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave the film **. Although he was able to identify a few scenes that he liked, over all he felt that the movie was at best "okay."

The film opens nationwide in the United States on Friday, August 17, 2001. In the Silicon Valley, it will be showing at the AMC and the Century theaters.

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