"Pride and Lost Love"
What You Need To Know:
The Italian countryside and the war uniforms stand out as the only visual gems of the movie. The direction and editing are only serviceable, while the script and acting performances don’t grip the audience emotionally. The biggest disappointment is the miscasting of Chris O’Donnell as Ernest Hemingway. He is too much like a puppy dog, to pull off the machismo of Hemingway. Dramatic themes like the horrors of war and the cultural and personality chasms between two people in love remains untouched. The ultimate theme of the movie may be that unforgiveness garners isolation. This movie contains some obscenities, war violence, brief nudity, and implied fornication
(Ro, LL, VV, S, NN, A, D) Romantic worldview of cavalier man who seeks adventure & love during WWI; 9 obscenities & 2 profanities; mild violence including explosions, gunfire & images of bloody corpses; depicted foreplay & implied fornication; upper male nudity, rear male nudity & obscured full female nudity; alcohol use; and, smoking
Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, neither are there any wimps. War brings out rugged, virile men who want a place in history and a good looking resume. In 1918, young Ernest Hemingway missed joining up with the US army because of a bad eye, but he was able to join the Red Cross and boost moral in Northern Italy. Taking the role of an ambulance driver, Hemingway (Chris O’Donnell) falls into an ill-fated love affair with his nurse, Agnes Von Kurowsky (Sandra Bullock). He is IN LOVE AND WAR.
In Italy, a 19-year-old Hemingway is anxious to go to the front lines and fight, but this desire is thwarted by his superiors. Nevertheless, Hemingway goes to the front lines and gives cigarettes, candy and support to Italian troops. As he speaks with the soldiers, bombs burst overhead, and one bomb lands close enough to produce casualties. Hemingway realizes it is best to leave, so, strapping a wounded, but living soldier to his back, he retreats. However, a passing bullet strikes him in the knee, and both men fall to the ground.
Hemingway is relieved to have a beautiful young nurse attend to his needs. Agnes, aged 26, becomes smitten with the young, courageous boy, but is restrained from returning his affections and flirtations by professional responsibility. Hemingway’s buddy, Henry Villard (Mackenzie Astin) also takes a fancy to Agnes when he is admitted to the care unit for jaundice. While the two younger men battle over Agnes, a third suitor enters the picture: Dr. Caracciolo (Emilio Bonucci), a handsome Italian who wants to amputate Hemingway’s leg.
Encouraged by Hemingway’s pleas, Agnes convinces Dr. Caracciolo to save the leg. Soon Ernie is up on his feet and is literally chasing Agnes around the countryside. Enchanted, Agnes becomes crestfallen when she gets news of a transfer closer to the front lines. Later Ernie meets her at her new base and tells her that he is leaving on the train the next morning for America. Ernie asks her to meet him at a brothel for an evening of romance. They meet, fornicate and the next day, Ernie states his intentions to marry Agnes after the war. Yet, his desires are severely challenged by the strong advances of Dr. Caracciolo.
IN LOVE AND WAR was released in 1996 for a week to try and gain Academy attention. As great as it looks, it will get little recognition. The Italian countryside and the war uniforms stand out alone as the only visual gems of the movie. The direction and editing are only serviceable, while the script and acting performances, although intelligent and pleasant, don’t grip the audience emotionally. The biggest cause of this disappointment is the gross miscasting of Chris O’Donnell as Ernest Hemingway. If history tells us anything about the man, it is that he is gruff, given to extremes and rugged. O’Connell exemplifies all that is warm, fuzzy and kind about the male gender. O’Donnell acts charming, but he doesn’t carry any bravado or machismo. Bullock represents a good catch and her sweet temperament is attractive, but it seems unrealistic that she would fall for a younger man with little future.
Teenage boys and girls will probably fancy this movie most of all. Both O’Donnell and Bullock represent a new wave of sex symbols. Attenborough, who has excelled with biographical dramas in the recent past, has merely created an attractive greeting card. The dramatic tension between a flirtatious youth and a goal-minded woman seems like conventional high-school romantic struggle. Deeper dramatic themes like the horrors of war, the struggle between super powers and the cultural and personality chasms between two people in love remains untouched. When Hemingway gets another opportunity to love Agnes, his pride prohibits him from embracing her once again. Hence, the ultimate theme of the movie may be that unforgiveness garners isolation. This is an important lesson, but it isn’t driven home until the last five minutes. IN LOVE AND WAR is all good intentions, but wars, love affairs and good movies are not won with good intentions.