The English Patient

1996

The English Patient

Critics Consensus

Though it suffers from excessive length and ambition, director Minghella's adaptation of the Michael Ondaatje novel is complex, powerful, and moving.

84%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 85

83%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 81,613
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Movie Info

Anthony Minghella wrote and directed this award-winning adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's novel about a doomed and tragic romance set against the backdrop of World War II. In a field hospital in Italy, Hana (Juliette Binoche), a nurse from Canada, is caring for a pilot who was horribly burned in a plane wreck; he has no identification and cannot remember his name, so he's known simply as "the English Patient," thanks to his accent. When the hospital is forced to evacuate, Hana determines en route that the patient shouldn't be moved far due to his fragile condition, so the two are left in a monastery to be picked up later. In time, Hana begins to piece together the patient's story from the shards of his memories; he's actually Count Laszlo Almasy (Ralph Fiennes), of Hungarian nobility and an explorer working with a group mapping uncharted territory in North Africa. An Englishman, Geoffrey Clifton (Colin Firth), soon joins Almasy's team; travelling with him is his lovely and spirited wife, Katherine (Kristin Scott Thomas). Katherine and Laszlo soon fall in love, which leads Laszlo to betray his friend, his country and all that is dear to him. Meanwhile, Hana and the Patient are joined by Kip (Naveen Andrews), a Sikh with a gift for defusing mines, and Caravaggio (Willem Dafoe), an intelligence agent who knows some of Laszlo's most shameful secrets. The English Patient won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress (Juliette Binoche). ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Cast

Ralph Fiennes
as Count Almaszy
Willem Dafoe
as David Caravaggio
Kristin Scott Thomas
as Katherine Clifton
Colin Firth
as Geoffrey Clifton
Jürgen Prochnow
as German Officer
Kevin Whately
as Sgt. Hardy
Clive Merrison
as Fenelon-Barnes
Nino Castelnuovo
as D'Agostino
Clive Morrison
as Fenelon-Barnes
Raymond Coulthard
as Rupert Douglas
Lee Ross
as Spalding
Anthony Smee
as Beach Interrogation Officer
Matthew Ferguson
as young Canadian soldier
Jason Done
as kiss me soldier
Roger Morlidge
as sergeant, desert train
Simon Sherlock
as private, desert train
Sebastian Schipper
as interrogation room soldier
Fritz Eggert
as interrogation room soldier
Sonia Mankaï
as Arab nurse
Rim Turki
as Aicha
Sebastian Rudolph
as officer in square
Thoraya Sehill
as interpreter in square
Sondess Belhassen
as woman with baby in square
Dominic Mafham
as officer, El Taj
Gregor Truter
as Corporal, El Taj
Salah Miled
as Bedouin doctor
Abdellatif Hamrouni
as ancient arab
Philipa Day
as Officer's Wife
Amanda Walker
as Lady Hampton
Phillipa Bay
as officer's wife
Paul Kant
as Sir Ronnie Hampton
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News & Interviews for The English Patient

Critic Reviews for The English Patient

All Critics (85) | Top Critics (28)

  • Its wit, sophistication and artistry never are at odds with the fundamental pull of a powerful love story that out-Zhivagos Doctor Zhivago because it respects love's mysteries, admits it doesn't know the heart's boundaries.

    Apr 26, 2018 | Full Review…

    Jay Carr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • It took a filmmaker with Anthony Minghella's vision to even attempt an adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient. And it took a filmmaker with Minghella's talent to pull it off.

    Feb 22, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Could this possibly be the Casablanca of the late 20th century?

    Jan 7, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's the sort of solemn production that is often mentioned as an Academy Award contender.This says less about the quality of the film than it does about its self-consciously lofty tone and its sense of self-importance.

    Jan 6, 2014 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • It's a tragically lovely story about the cruel devastation of selfish and ungoverned love. It's also one of the best movies in a long, long time.

    Jan 6, 2014 | Full Review…

    John Krewson

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • The film is a smashing success on its own terms, though as a transcendent love story it lacks the firm foundation in human reality that characterizes Lars Von Trier's superior Breaking the Waves.

    Jan 6, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The English Patient

  • Jul 04, 2014
    The kind of overlong and self-important epic-scale drama that seems tailor-made to win every award for its outstanding visuals, performances, make-up and editing, but which suffers from an excess of characters and subplots while lacking in focus and meaning.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 13, 2013
    A great and touching tragedy two two distinct and equally rewarding romances, one in the "present" and one in the "past". An honest and rewarding depiction of Ondaatje's work.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 01, 2013
    Though its script isn't perfect, and the romance between supporting characters Hanna and Kip feels slightly extraneous, "The English Patient" is a well-acted, beautifully lensed romance story that evokes memories of other cinematic classics (and Best Picture Oscar winners) "Casablanca" and "Lawrence of Arabia" with its epic storytelling and lavish production design, impressing on both a technical and emotional level.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Oct 27, 2012
    Excellent, moving film. Fiennes can do no wrong. This is one of the few films in which I appreciated Willen Defoe's acting.
    Christian C Super Reviewer

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