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Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001)

Rating: 2/10

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

Let’s start with the very obvious flaws of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

‘Whaddya mean obviouso flaws? Mamma Mia, shaddapya face’, retorted Captain Corelli, played by Nicolas Cage with such believability and subtlety. This acting enigma with the predictability of an earthquake has been in some awful films in his time but this is one of the worst. He hams it up to the hills with a very very patchy Italian accent giving him the air of a creep instead of the greasy Italiano lovegod which I assume he for aimed for. The whole film is a mishmash mess of terrible, uncoordinated accents as Anglophones attempt generic Mediterranean accents and German accents whereas others just don’t bother and stick to their mother accent. All of it doesn’t allow you to take it seriously from the off.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is a terrific smash hit of a book by Louis de Bernieres. It’s funny and romantic whilst being an engaging and accessible look at the Second World War Two for an occupied nation. John Madden’s film adaptation is none of those things – just a big mushfest with Nicholas Cage clowning around and Penelope Cruz looking strangely unattractive.

The story takes place on the small Greek island of Cephalonia during World War Two. Pelegria (Cruz) lives idyllically in this sun-kissed paradise with her Dad (Hurt) and fiancé Mandras (Bale) until the Second World War breaks out and the island is occupied by the Italian and German armies. Whilst Mandras is away Pelagria takes a fancy to a charismatic Italian soldier, Captain Corelli (Cage), which puts her family in danger, especially when the German army ruthlessly set on islanders and the Italians, their former allies.

John Madden and Shawn Slovo must have felt he couldn’t fit all of Louis Bernieres’ amazingly brave and varied 400-page book into one film so he decided to cut it back and linearise it a bit. By that, I mean they took out all the humour, kookiness,  action and politics of the book until just a straight down the middle romance lasting over two hours remained. It’s always going to be the case that some things are going to be missed out from a book but it’s like they decided to take all the worst bits which serve to turn complex characters into cardboard cut outs.  The romance aspect is played out very strangely in the open which just makes you wonder why there are no ramifications when a Greek girl publicly gets together with an invader. Just one of the examples of the punches being pulled.

Please read the book and avoid this like an Italian letch.

It's Got: Terrible accents, some of the book shining through, a lack of humour

It Needs: Some more of the war to come into play, the Mandras character to be closer to the original, to be less of a straight up romance


Mamma Mia, the accents are just one of the awful things about this terrible adaptation of a modern classic.