In Love And War

on December 18, 1996 by Joseph McBride
  &#160If the central character of "In Love and War" weren't Ernest Hemingway, this would seem a rather ordinary and predictable, if beautifully rendered, wartime romance between a wounded Red Cross ambulance driver and his nurse. Although director Richard Attenborough ("Shadowlands") and his staff have compellingly recreated the atmosphere of Italy during World War I, the story can't help seeming a pallid imitation of Hemingway's novel "A Farewell to Arms," for which this true-life love story served as raw material.
  &#160Chris O'Donnell ("The Chamber") is the teenaged Hemingway, a callow Midwesterner with a disturbing compulsion for proving his manhood under fire. His recklessly brave actions put him into an American-run hospital under the care of nurse Agnes von Kurowsky, played by Sandra Bullock ("A Time to Kill"). The story of Hemingway's largely unrequited passion for the comely, more experienced nurse was transformed into the tragic romance of "A Farewell to Arms," and it's an odd concept to film the writer's actual experience rather than his imaginative reshaping of it.
  &#160But Attenborough's sensitivity with actors gives the story more weight than it otherwise might have sustained. The sparks between Agnes' emotionally reserved but deeply empathetic character and "Ernie's" impetuous, unformed nature make for some touchingly nuanced scenes of courtship between Bullock and O'Donnell. Attenborough also explores Hemingway's caddish, brutal streak and, although O'Donnell is barely able to suggest Hemingway's potential as a writer, he believably captures the warring sides of the character.
   "In Love and War" is most impressive in its vision of wartime Italy, from the nightmarish battlegrounds and field hospitals to the bustling streets and contrastingly tranquil palazzi. Cinematographer Roger Pratt, production designer Stuart Craig and costume designer Penny Rose have done a marvelous job of transporting the viewer back into the period. If the pacing seems too languid for a war movie, that problem unfortunately is inherent in the story. Starring Sandra Bullock, Chris O'Donnell, Ingrid Lacey, Emilio Bonucci and Mackenzie Astin. Directed by Richard Attenborough. Written by Clancy Sigal, Allan Scott and Anna Hamilton Phelan. Produced by Richard Attenborough and Dimitri Villard. A New Line release. Romantic drama. Rated PG-13 for graphic war injuries and some sensuality
Tags: No Tags

read all Reviews »


No comments were posted.

What do you think?