Directed by John Madden. USA. 2001.

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Serene and  beautiful, Captain Corelli's Mandolin is a passionate tale of romance and war set on a grand, yet intimate scale. Incredibly easy on the eye, the landscape and characters that toil within it, are honest and sumptuous beyond the Western viewpoint they are seen from, and serve to integrate the audience into its spellbinding magic.   Cruz as Pelagia is gentle and lovable; Cage as Corelli (despite 'that' accent) is an appealing, if not first-choice candidate for our hero, whilst Bale completes the set nicely as Mandras; perhaps the most intriguing character of them all. Madden's reworking of Captain Corelli's Mandolin moves easily and expertly between joviality and serious devastation, as we explore the effects these have on both the physical landscape and the human spirit; the deterioration of Mandras being an underplayed but highly significant marker of this.   The first two acts, preoccupied with setting the sun-drenched scene and Corellis arrival, are engaging but - as with most war-torn love stories - the substance really comes alive when the first bomb hits, leading to some heartbreakingly tragic moments. Captain Corellis Mandolin is a humble, honest  love story but has all the unfortunate pitfalls of a novel dramatisation, this particular text being so tightly woven that it has proved difficult to unpick. The result however- as a film in its own right - is a thoroughly enjoyable, emotionally engaging, and highly fulfilling fairy-tale for the Twentieth Century.

Amy Johnson
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