Captain Corelli's Mandolin
History's at odds with romance but filmmakers tend to believe that the grandeur and massive scale of one heightens the transformatory relevance of the other. And so it is in Captain Corelli's Mandolin that the theater of war becomes an awkward backdrop for a Mediterranean love story on the beautiful Greek isle of Cephalonia.
John Hurt narrates the events as Greek Dr. Iannis. His daughter Pelagia (Penélope Cruz) is engaged to strapping young Mandras (Christian Bale), who leaves their peaceful existence to fight Italian fascists in Albania. Meanwhile, a segment of those same fascists arrive to occupy the island, lead by music-loving Captain Corelli (Nicolas Cage) and his band of historically inaccurate merry men. (Let's face it: Mussolini's fascist thugs were never quite this fun). Mandras comes back, of course, and the Germans swoop in to encounter Greek/Italian resistance.
Based on a best-selling novel by Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli's Mandolin proves to be more of a visually stunning period romance than anything else. Along with its good casting come bad accents. This is director John Madden's first film since 1998's superlative Shakespeare in Love. A Tom Stoppard-assisted script aided the ingenuity of that film; Captain Corelli's Mandolin is more by-the-numbers, but still offers a sweet vision of love under siege.