ITV1: Sunday 22 November, 10.20pm
During the occupation of the Greek islands in WWII, Italian officer Nicolas Cage casts covetous eyes on Peñelope Cruz, daughter of the village doctor and bethrothed to partisan Christian Bale, away fighting in the hills. She’s resistant at first, of course, but is soon slipping out of her clothes as supplely as his fingers run over the strings of his mandolin, strapped to his back like a rucksack.
And then along come the beastly Germans to put a stop to the wine drinking and dancing. John Madden’s poorly structured film is a clunkingly clichéd romance acted out for the most part in cringing pidgin-English dialogue fractured by an uncomfortably cosmopolitan cast. There is no sweep to the spectacle, no ardour to the passion. John Hurt’s doleful doctor wanders through proceedings with the wisdom of Solomon and the prescience of a character derived from hindsight, dispensing trite homilies to the thick-witted locals as Cruz and Cage contemplate each other’s soulful eyes.
Just as in the winsome Oscar-winning fable Mediterraneo, you wouldn’t know there was a war going on, and when it arrives it’s not exactly The Guns of Navarone. Nothing is allowed to get in the way of Cruz and Cage’s Romeo and Juliet dance, and nothing much animates it either. This particular Euro-pudding is all sunshine and sugar, topped off with a saccharine score.