It's been said before, and not just by me.

Why is it that if a married man has an affair, it's a bad thing, and he's going to be punished (Fatal Attraction, The Crush) but if a married woman has an affair it's the romantic love epic of the season (Bridges of Madison County)?

Well I don't know, but once again, a woman cheating on her husband is the subject behind one of the year's most acclaimed romantic epics, The English Patient.

You may have heard of this flick, it's nominated for 12 Academy Awards, it won the Golden Globe, it's three friggin hours long, and if you're a man, your girl-friend/wife/what have you has been trying to drag you to it for a couple of months now. If you haven't already succumbed.

See, it's a chick film. Plain and simple, and with no remorse.

The story has our man Ralph Fiennes (pronounced Ray Fines, I think) falling in love with married chick Kristin Scott Thomas (pronounced Kristen Scott Thomas) during the outbreak of WW2. Except that the entire story is told through flashbacks from his make-shift hospital bed to his nurse Juliette Binoche (pronounced Jimmy Walker), who has an entire story of her own going on at the same time.

Now this has some great things going for it. World War Two was a very violent time, and can be pretty exciting at times. Kristen Scoot Thomas is a total babe, and gets buck naked in one scene. I mean we see bush!!! We see a guy get his thumbs cut off. These are all good things. Except the war is immaterial, the thumb thing is quick and...well, there's actually nothing wrong with a totally naked Kristen Scott Thomas, more films should do that.

Truth told, this was a very good movie. Everything is done right, and at a cost of $34 million bucks, it's the most expensive independent film yet, and I heartily encourage other artsy chick films to spend $34 million bucks to make their movie. The direction is excellent, the script is tight and wonderful, the performances are marvelous.

But I wanted more. See, as Hollywood will be the first to admit, this year's movies just weren't as good as previous Oscar-caliber movies, and so The English Patient, which would have been nominated in any year but not be the favorite, has been latched onto by everyone as THE movie event of the year. And it just wasn't all that. Sure it's good, but Babe runs circles around it any day.

And again, there's this double standard about married people sleeping with other folk. Men become scum, women become wounded ducks, wilting under the unfair social pressures of the world. Well Excuse me, but if my wife cheated on me, she'd be out of the door faster than you can say "Whoa, Self-Made, you got a wife?" But Kristen Scott Thomas is so wonderful. she gets a third name!

The other story line, which involves Juliette Binoche and her guy, is for my money, a much better storyline because they're both single, so that's fine.

To sum up, The English Patient has majesty, wonder, discovery, a naked babe, and some incredibly large shots of the desert, which, let's face it, isn't that exciting of a place, I mean it's just a bunch of sand. So the movie garners 3 1/3 Babylons. Plus one Chick Film Babylon, because that's what this is, a chick film. Love it or leave it, your enjoyment of this film is hindered by an active Y chromosome.

Editor's Note:

When The Self-Made Critic mentioned "bush" earlier in the review, he was of course talking about a rather attractive shrubbery which can be seen in one scene behind Ralph Fiennes in the window. It is a remarkable bit of decorative landscaping, and The Self-Made Critic wanted to give credit where credit is due.


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