The English Patient

  • Review Date: September 20, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1996

Common Sense Media says

Stunning, complex mature emotional drama.
  • Review Date: September 20, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1996





What parents need to know

Positive messages

There are excellent examples of heroism but there is also an adulterous relationship..


Guns shoot down a plane, wounded soldiers, burn victims, bombs, a sandstorm, explosions, car crash, man is choked to death, suicides, a finger is cut off.


Full frontal nudity (female), sex.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters get drunk to ease pain, many characters drink, morphine is abused.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film features its fair share of both gore and sex, although the slow pace of the film keeps either from being overwhelming. There is full-frontal female nudity, a case of adultery, a finger is sliced off, and a sandstorm temporarily strands people in the desert. In addition, there are bloody injuries, bombs, explosions, two plane crashes, and several deaths. There is also substance abuse of both alcohol and morphine.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

In the tradition of grand movie romances, THE ENGLISH PATIENT follows the story of an amnesic World War II burn victim (Ralph Fiennes) as his memories slowly return. In an Allied hospital, the heavily-bandaged patient (whose only identifier is his English accent) is cared for by nurse Hana (Juliette Binoche), who is drawn to the mystery man. Amidst the war-time violence, Hana tries to bring the man out of his catatonic state, and soon present events trigger the patient to recall his dangerous past, and the love he found and lost, in the North African desert.

Is it any good?


Despite Oscar wins and high praise, THE ENGLISH PATIENT requires a certain type of viewer to appreciate its plot. There are copious flashbacks, and the often dark story unfolds slowly. Based on a novel, the film suffers from a simultaneous lack and abundance of detail. Some scenes fail to further the plot, while others need more explanation. The film could go in a million directions, but it floats through the material to arrive at an unfulfilling ending. All of this, however, is easy to overlook because the film is so visually stunning.

The supporting cast is brilliant – Juliette Binoche and Kristin Scott Thomas in particular give excellent performances, and Colin Firth leaves an indelible mark. Ralph Fiennes imparts to his character a distinct emotional distance, which works well to establish the character, but makes it hard for him to gain the viewer's sympathy, or even explain how another character falls in love with him.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about issues surrounding the physical and emotional consequences of war. What are the different responses that the characters have to death, and how do they change? What happens when convictions are treated as the truth? How is adultery portrayed in the film? What are the ramifications of adultery in the film and what might they be in real life?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 6, 1996
DVD release date:May 31, 1999
Cast:Juliette Binoche, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ralph Fiennes
Director:Anthony Minghella
Run time:160 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sexuality, some violence and language

This review of The English Patient was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byKass April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Parent Written byRenataAnsaca March 23, 2012

English Patient

This movie is one of my favorites. Ralph Fiennes perfectly conveys an unhappy man unhappily in love with someone else's wife at the start of the war. It's not a love story per-say, but definately has a star-crossed lovers theme you can feel through the screen. Meanwhile, there is some gore and some sex, involving a character getting his thumbs lopped off in an interrogation room, and adulterate intercourse. You see a woman's body completely naked in a sexual manner. But it's still very much worth it for the inspiring plotline and amazing characters. <3 Two thumbs and a toe up!

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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