Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001) John Madden

Production Budget: $57 million
Worldwide Gross: $62 million (US gross $25 million)

Ugh, damn fan requests.

CCM is about the Italian occupation of a Greek island during WWII.  Pelagia (Penelope Cruz) was engaged to a local fisherman Madras (Christian Bale) who enlists in the partisans.  Captain Corelli is in charge of the soldiers occupying his town.  Corelli is a “fun loving” guy who would prefer to sing than to fight.  Pelagia soon falls for the Captain and she must choose who she really loves.

Let’s look first at the cast.  Most of the reason for the mockery is for Nic Cage and his over the top Italian accent.  “BELLA BAMBINA AT TWO O CLOCK!”  You know, I don’t begrudge an actor who knows he can’t do a dignified job with an accent and just speaks English.  In fact, I admire him.  It’s when we get attempts like this that we really laugh.  I kept expecting Nic to exclaim “That’s a spicy meat-a-ball!” at the end of every line.  What is also dumb is how the Spanish Penelope Cruz is supposed to be a native born Greek woman.  Cruz gives the weakest performance of the movie as her whole role is to stand around looking teary eyed.  The two people that really escape all shame are Christian Bale and John Hurt.  It is shocking that both actors give, well, great performances in this dog.  John Hurt is the one actor that can star in the worst movies and give great performances.  He could be in Red Zone Cuba and he would give a great performance.  It’s such a shame that both wasted talent on this when Bale could have put more into say Public Enemies.

The story we are given is just weak based on the fact we don’t buy this romance for a second.  There is no real reason why Pelagia would love this guy.  Corelli is not adorable, he’s an idiot.  He’s not even an adorable idiot. Corelli is so incredibly simple that it almost takes the actors off guard.  People are dying in front of him and he’s just singing and dancing like there isn’t a care in the world.  No one has glasses that rose colored.  I realize about halfway through, the real hero of the movie is Madras.  He is the most compelling character of the movie but he gets the shaft the whole way through.  Seriously, screw Corelli after all he’s done for him.

As I said the romance is weak and it obviously takes up the majority of the movie.  There aren’t any other plot threads or stories to keep our interest.  The movie loses most of its steam about half way through.  With about 25 minutes left it seems like Madden had to rush to put some kind of action in the movie.  We then get some half assed climax where Corelli fights the Nazis because all of a sudden he is a man of principle.  Not so much when allied with the genocidal Germans but in the last 20 minutes he grows a pair.  It doesn’t work and it sets up a lame excuse for why Corelli and Pelagia must temporarily break up.

This movie isn’t god awful, but it’s not good at all.  Like I really needed to tell you that.  The movie is a mix of the truly embarrassing along with some enjoyable performance and a few good scenes.  Between this and Killshot, I think Shakespeare in Love was a fluke for Madden.

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