With a touching love story set against the backdrop of war, this film will jerk some emotion out of pretty much anyone. The one flaw you can detect with respect to the storyline is that some points, it will literally be all over the place and things will happen a bit too quickly. Other than that though, the pace of the main story is great. The strange dynamics of war are also very well portrayed and even though the movie does not portray any historical accuracy, anyone with knowledge of the events of the second Great War will appreciate another look at it. This film is a true testament to the people who lived through that moment and who saw thousands of Italian soldiers massacred by the German Army who was afraid they would turn on them after Mussolini's collapse, and to those who survived the earthquake that leveled the island following the War.
John Hurt's performance as Pelagia's father and local village wise man is as unforgettable as it is subdued and he becomes the glue holding the movie and all its characters together. Cage is great as well, despite some difficulty with the accent. He's as expressive as ever and displays his usual wide range. Cruz on the other hand, has never been one of my favorites and the best I can come up with is that she did not annoy me as she usually does. You can also be on the lookout for a good turn by Christian Bale, the American Psycho himself as Mandras, the local fisherman and militia man to whom Pelagia is betrothed before the arrival of Corelli and the Italians. The film also makes the most of its beautiful location. One can hardly argue with the fact that the Greek Islands are among the most beautiful places in the world and director John Madden lets us salivate at the opal blue sea and at the lush mountain sides. Great scenery is one thing that will always draw me to a movie. It sort of makes you wish you were there, no matter what horrors befell the people living there.
Other than that, a pretty good music video by Brit Opera singer Russell Watson performing the theme "Pelagia's song" is pretty much all you'll have, aside from the theatrical trailer, some pretty damn interesting production notes and cast & crew bios. There are also some DVD-ROM features which you'll have to discover on your own since JoBlo turned down my expense account for equipment acquisitions (he's been doing that ever since he got caught deducting that blow-up doll from his income taxes...more on that later).
One thing that would have gone down real swell for history buffs would have been a documentary on the history of this island which has appeared in everything from ancient Greek Mythology to Hollywood films. That particular period in time, although painful and disturbing would have been extremely interesting to dig deeper into.