It’s 1940 and local physician Dr. Iannis (John Hurt) and his young adult daughter, Pelagia (Penelope Cruz) enjoy a simple life on the Greek isle of Cephallonia, a place that’s been familiar with various forms of tragedies throughout time. On the eve of war WW II Pelagia becomes engaged to Mandras (Christian Bale), a local fisherman who’s now headed off to fight in the war. As the months pass, Pelagia worries about her fiancée who never writes and soon she believes the worst has happened. Her attentions turn to an Italian officer, Captain Antonio Corelli (Nicolas Cage) who is assigned to stay in her home from the Italian artillery regiment. The captain is more of a musician than fighter and his carefree and jovial ways soon begin to warm Pelagia’s icy attitude towards him. Pelagia falls in love with him but is then faced with her loyalty to Mandras or her love for Corelli.
I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this romance drama mainly because of the beautiful scenery (I bet tourism to this island increases) and opera music. There’s just something about men singing together that is inspiring. The wartime story is told from a different cultural perspective with characters that embody the Italian, Greek and German conflict. I wasn’t thrilled with Cage’s Italian accent but once you get past that, the characters have a charm about them that entertains to the end. I wish there could have been more scenes with Cage and Cruz to build a little more chemistry between them but in the end, true love wins out. I liked the fact that a respect for family is emphasized as well as the conflict of morals and valuing human life. Even though sex before marriage was a taboo in the 1940s, this story shows how that conflict is intertwined with the circumstances of war and decisions are made which reflect that. I enjoyed this period piece war drama that combined just enough romance and human interest to make it a satisfying and entertaining movie, especially for dates.
Be advised that this is a movie that’s set during WW II, so period themes involving Nazis, racism, brutal tactics of war, occupation, love, grief, despair, miracles, morality, co-existence of different cultures, trust, assassinations and more, make it a mature drama that’s worth seeing, but not for younger audiences.