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Grade: B At the forefront of Captain Corelli's Mandolin is a touching love story set in the backdrop of World War II. It's a tale we're taken through a step at a time, one that's happy and sad and by the end we've experienced enough emotions to make up several films.
   Capt. Antonio Corelli is played by Nicolas Cage, an Italian soldier who always has a song to sing. Corelli is stationed on the Greek island of Cephalonia and immediately has an eye on a local young woman named Pelagia (Penelope Cruz), the daughter of a physician named Dr. Iannis (John Hurt).
   Pelagia isn't interested in Corelli. She doesn't seem to like foreigners and besides, she's already spoken for. Her fiance Mandras (Christian Bale) is off to fight in the war. She writes him constantly, although she hasn't heard back from him in months.
   On the Greek island, there are also German soldiers, led by Capt. Gunther Weber (David Morrissey). The Germans and the Italians are allies, while the Greeks are not trusting of either group. There is a great deal of tension between the different sides, although the Greeks seem to feel more comfortable with the Italians than the Germans as the film goes along.
   Midway into the film, Corelli catches a break in his quest to win Pelagia's heart. Pelagia's father strikes a deal with Corelli's officer in charge to have him stay with the Iannis household while he's in Greece.
   Pelagia continues to play hard to get, though, partly because Corelli's attitude is so different from hers. He is always smiling and singing, playing his mandolin, while she is seriously concerned about the future of her country. "We're in the middle of a war, not an opera house," she tells him.
   As time passes and in front of the top notch cinematography -- the landscapes, the architecture -- Pelagia and Corelli spend time with one another and start to become genuinely interested in the way the other one feels and thinks and acts.
   There's a lot of emotion involved here. There's a Greek falling in love with an Italian. There's Pelagia's father (John Hurt), who is always there to give his daughter advice and who likes Corelli. Hurt's role is so good in this film it reminded me of Paul Newman's equally impressive fatherly role in Message in a Bottle. There's also the feelings Pelagia might still have for Mandras.
   Based on the novel by Louis de Bernieres, Captain Corelli's Mandolin really tells a story about two people who are on the verge of realizing they can't live without each other.
   This movie is a bit long. I wish some of the war scenes were replaced with more scenes of Cage and Cruz, but that's okay. It still succeeds as a fairly memorable film.
   All of the actors and actress turn in convincing performances. Cage's accent is bad, but his confidence in his acting ability sparkles on screen and pulls him through. Cruz is just good, period.
   Captain Corelli's Mandolin misses a few notes here and there, but after it was over, I felt more like the singing and smiling Corelli than I did a fallen and injured war hero. **** Captain Corellis Mandolin is rated R for violence, sexuality and language.