Singularly uninspiring three-handed dramatisation (of a book by Henry S Villard and James Nagel) of the passionate but ill-fated affair of Ernest Hemingway (O'Donnell) and nurse Agnes von Kurowsky (Bullock). This was during the author's formative spell as a volunteer orderly on the Austro-Italian front in 1918. Bullock simply doesn't have a period face, and looks hopelessly lost. Love, war and grand passion ain't her thing, though you can forgive her for looking unconvinced in the clinches with eternal jock O'Donnell, who gives the same faintly irritating performance he always does. Attenborough conjures up hordes of extras for the battle scenes and stunning Venetian locations for the subplot involving wealthy Italian suitor Bonucci, yet the film's vision of the horrors of war proves so blandly approximate it never quite fixes the central relationship in sharp focus. Bereft of startling thematic insight or leavening gallows humour, such old-fashioned selfless heroism and breast-heaving romance doesn't really play any more. The kind of movie the director might have made 30 years ago, and after the very moving Shadowlands, a considerable let-down.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Allan Scott, Clancy Sigal, Anna Hamilton Phelan|