Drama: Ernest Hemingway is wounded in WWI Italy and meets an American nurse whom he immediately falls for.
This is based on the "true story" of Ernest Hemingway’s time during WWI in Northern Italy. Red Cross personnel are assigned to boost morale or help the injured and Ernest Hemingway (CHRIS O'DONNELL) volunteers to go to the front to get closer to the war action. Wounded during a skirmish, he's sent to a hospital where he meets American nurse Agnes von Kurowsky (SANDRA BULLOCK) who, along with her friend, Elsie 'Mac' MacDonald (INGRID LACEY), tends him back to health. He and his buddy Henry Villard (MACKENZIE ASTIN) compete for her affections, but Agnes has a thing for Ernest. He must contend, however, with being sent back home while she stays in Europe with Italian surgeon Dr. Domenico Caracciolo (EMILIO BONUCCI) who becomes romantically attached to her as well.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they’re fans of O’Donnell or Bullock, they definitely will. Those looking for a period love story will also be drawn to this one.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For graphic war injuries and some sensuality.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
CHRIS O'DONNELL plays a confidant young man who continues to pursue Agnes despite her (halfhearted) disapproval of a romance between them.
SANDRA BULLOCK plays a devoted nurse who falls for Ernest but then breaks his heart and that of an older doctor who also falls in love with her.
This is a sweet and often moving account of Hemingway’s early days both during and immediately after stint time in WWI. In this production, one can certainly see the genesis of his later tough man attitude and behavior and can't help being constantly reminded of his later work, "A Farewell to Arms." While certainly not as tragic as that novel, this movie has its own tragedy in that Hemingway’s boyish qualities were extinguished with a large and heavy bucket of reality. O’Donnell is fun to watch, but early on I had difficulty imagining the old, grizzled man coming from this bundle of self-assured energy. Of course by the end, one discovers and sees the transformation taking place and thus that problem is resolved. Part of the enjoyment of the movie comes from watching O’Donnell and Bullock working together. While both are charismatic actors, his confidant flirtations playing against her blushing reactions make the movie both fun and sweet. Other fronts are well served, from the cinematography that captures the feel of early 20th century Europe, to director Richard Attenborough’s pacing and feel for a wartime romantic story. While not the best account of romance during war captured on film, it’s certainly an enjoyable and at times moving production. We give it a 7 out of 10.
OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
If your kids are mature and old enough to handle some rather bloody scenes and one tame sex scene, this might not be a bad film for them to see. The wounded and dead are quite bloody, however, as are several operating sessions. The sex scene shows a before and after encounter with only a brief glimpse of O’Donnell’s bare butt (afterwards), but there is the sound of people having sex next door to them in a brothel. There’s some drinking and a hint of the beginnings of Hemingway's alcoholism and a mild amount of smoking. Profanity is surprisingly tame (with many war and wounded scenes), but this is mostly a romance film so it’s nice not to have too much. Beyond that, we suggest that you check out the category listings to determine if this film is appropriate for you and your family.
Ernest and Henry compete for Agnes’ affections and at times it turns a bit ugly. At one point Ernest says that it must be tough for Henry since the others were wounded while he only "turned yellow" (from jaundice). Ernest then lies about having carnal knowledge of Agnes to upset Henry.
Agnes ends up emotionally hurting both Ernest and Domenico.
It's said that a young Italian soldier has never "been with a woman" and when asked, Ernest states that he's been with many.
The men briefly (and somewhat drunkenly) talk about the nurses bathing their (the patients') "private parts."
To goad Henry (who’s competing for Agnes’ affections), Ernest lies that Agnes’ company and favors were "granted to me the other night in her bed."
Ernest tells Agnes that there’s a hotel near the train station that he’s leaving from the next day. She tells him that it’s really a brothel but meets him there later that night. Sounds of people having sex are heard through the walls and the two begin to passionately kiss. They quickly remove pieces of clothing and she’s seen climbing on top of him with her bra partly coming off. It’s implied that they have sex. Later they’re seen slow dancing in the nude (in the room’s shadows) and for a brief moment his bare butt comes into the light and can be seen.