Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Directed by John Madden
Starring: Nicolas Cage, PenÚlope Cruz, John Hurt, Christian Bale.
MPAA Rating: R for some violence, sexuality and language.

Review by Matt Heffernan <>
October 13, 2001

This review, without question, is the latest of my career as a film critic. I saw Captain Corelli's Mandolin over two months ago, and now it is only in a handful of theatres. I hope this review should explain why.

In short: PenÚlope Cruz plays a young Greek woman whose new husband (Christian Bale) has just left to fight World War II. Some time later, after he is presumed dead, the Italian army comes to occupy their small island town. The Italian soldiers are really musicians, led by Captain Corelli (Nicolas Cage), who plays -- you guessed it -- the mandolin. Somehow, despite the horrors of war, these two kids fall in love. You probably also guessed that Bale isn't really dead, and a wartime love triangle results.

The only interesting thing about this film is that none of the main Greek characters are played by actual Greeks. Cruz is Spanish, of course, and her husband and father (John Hurt) are Brits. Meanwhile, the Italian-American Cage puts on such an outrageous accent that at any point you expect him to say, "That's a spicy meat-a-ball!"

The rest of the film is a rather annoying war re-enactment, featuring some of the loudest bombing I've ever heard. The soundtrack even made Pearl Harbor seem restrained. It is certainly not the kind of film people want to see these days, but even its pre-9/11 take was miniscule.

It's really a shame, because director John Madden (the guy who made Shakespeare in Love, not the one who coached the Raiders) is quite talented, but his choice in material is inconsistent at best. Hopefully, he and the rest of the people responsible for this film will have better taste in the future.

For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001)

Here's some merchandise for sale at
Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001) -- VHS
Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001) -- DVD
Corelli's Mandolin, a novel by Louis De Bernieres -- Paperback
Corelli's Mandolin, a novel by Louis De Bernieres -- Audio Cassette (read by Stephen Lang)
Captain Corelli's Mandolin: The Illustrated Film Companion, by Steve Clark -- Hardcover
Captain Corelli's Mandolin: Soundtrack -- Compact Disc Home
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Review © 2001 Matt Heffernan