You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

War is just a backdrop for hackneyed love triangle


Between “The Ottoman Lieutenant” and next month’s “The Promise,” audiences can look forward to not one but two movies about love triangles set against the fall of the Ottoman Empire. When it rains, it pours, I guess. (But who, exactly, asked for this?)

Maybe viewers who want to see the record set straight about what came to be known as the Armenian genocide. But don’t look to “The Ottoman Lieutenant” to present evidence of war crimes. It isn’t so much a war movie as a melodrama that uses violence as a convenient backdrop for romantic intrigue.

And that’s not the only problem. The trouble starts with the casting. As strong-willed American nurse Lillie, Icelandic actress Hera Hilmar never quite nails the accent required to play the daughter of a well-to-do family in 1914 Philadelphia. In the opening scene, she tries to save a black man who’s bleeding to death in her hospital, only to be upbraided by her superiors for helping someone who they claim doesn’t belong in a whites-only facility.

“I thought I was going to change the world,” Lillie says, during the mawkish voice-over narration. “Of course, it was the world that changed me.”

After meeting Jude (wooden Josh Hartnett), an inspirational doctor who has been working at a remote hospital in Anatolia, Lillie volunteers to hand-deliver medical supplies there. Against her parents’ wishes, she boards a steamship for Turkey, arriving on the cusp of World War I, just as tensions are boiling over between the Christian Armenians and the Muslim Turks.

But don’t give any of that too much thought. The real focus is the drama between Lillie, Jude and a dashing Turkish officer named Ismail (Michiel Huisman, who, despite being Dutch, is slightly better at accents).

A lieutenant in the Ottoman army, Ismail is the military escort assigned to deliver Lillie to Jude’s hospital. Predictably, Ismail and Lillie don’t get along at first. Nor does she mesh with the cranky old man who’s in charge of the hospital, Dr. Woodruff (Ben Kingsley, who is essentially playing a cliche). Woodruff drones on about how the hospital is no place for a woman, then questions Lillie’s credentials: “You can’t even recognize typhus? Where did you get your training?”

Here’s a better question: How long will it take before both men come around? Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.

As bloodied victims come straggling into the hospital, Lillie is confronted with a difficult choice between the increasingly sanctimonious Jude, with whom she nevertheless has a lot in common, and the mysterious Muslim officer. Given Ismail’s winning smile — not to mention the title of the movie — it’s pretty obvious where this going.

Along the way, there are a few moments of genuine suspense, with Ismail out in the field battling Armenians. The movie takes great pains to show that he’s reluctant to spill blood; he’s just following orders.

But morality is hardly the main concern of “The Ottoman Lieutenant.” Instead, it’s content with hackneyed romance and soaring strings. Better luck next month, when “The Promise” comes out.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Movies & TV

Nuts and seeds: A super snack
Nuts and seeds: A super snack

My boys are ardent baseball players. At some point during the 10,000 hours it seems they have spent on the diamond, they picked up the archetypal habit of chewing and spitting sunflower seeds in the dugout. When I ask them whether this unsightly practice is really necessary, they appeal to my passion for nutrition by reminding me that nuts and seeds...
Nicki Minaj signs modeling contract with Wilhelmina 
Nicki Minaj signs modeling contract with Wilhelmina 

Nicki Minaj can add “model” to her list of jobs. Vogue reported that the rapper, actress, songwriter and mobile video game creator has signed a modeling contract with Wilhelmina Models, a talent and model management agency. Specifically, Minaj will join Wilhelmina’s celebrity division and will work with the agency on campaigns...
Nearly 50 dachshunds rescued, looking for forever homes
Nearly 50 dachshunds rescued, looking for forever homes

Two Florida animal rescue facilities have taken in 47 dachshunds and are looking for a forever home for each of them. WJHG reported that the Alaqua Animal Refuge in Freeport, Florida, and the Save Underdogs Rescue in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, took in the dogs. “They were going to be taken to a local shelter that wasn't a no-kill shelter so...
Your cat really does like you, in fact more than food, study says
Your cat really does like you, in fact more than food, study says

Cats have gotten a bad rap, at least according to a new study that found your feline really does like you, even if it doesn’t always know how to show you, and it actually likes interacting with you more than it prefers food. The study from Oregon State University researchers in the journal “Behavioral Processes” also determined that...
TLC’s ‘Trading Spaces’ is headed back to television
TLC’s ‘Trading Spaces’ is headed back to television

TLC is bringing back its popular show “Trading Spaces” 10 years after it went off the air. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network announced it will bring the show back in an upfront presentation to advertisers on Tuesday. “I am excited to announce that TLC's most successful and most iconic series ... ‘Trading Spaces&rsquo...
More Stories