The week in review

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The Independent Culture
THE FILM

The English Patient

Writer-director Anthony Minghella's multi-Oscar nominated $30m screen version of Michael Ondaatje's Booker prizewinner is an epic love story starring Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas and Juliette Binoche, score by Gabriel Yared, edited by Walter Murch and produced by Saul Zaentz.

Cert 15, 165 mins, across the country

Adam Mars-Jones praised the "relentlessly beautiful" film. "Minghella's touch is so sure." "An intense epic, both sweeping and fiercely intimate... the film crackles with a palpable sexual charge," revelled the Spectator. "The performances are flawless, more surprising are the fluency, poetry and scale of Minghella's direction," said Time Out. "You can take your brain to The English Patient and you will not be insulted," approved The Times. "Ravishing," drooled Arena. "If Scott Thomas doesn't win an Oscar there's no justice. Same goes for the film," asserted GQ. "Falls short of greatness," carped the Standard.

Minghella's leap into the major league is almost unprecedented.

Go. THE PLAY

Lady in the Dark

The London premiere of the

Moss Hart/ Kurt Weill/ Ira Gershwin show about glamorous Liza Elliott (Maria Friedman) seeking therapy to avoid cracking up. With Charlotte Cornwell and James Dreyfus. Designs by Adrianne Lobel and Nicky Gillibrand, directed by Francesca Zambello.

At the National Theatre, London (0171-928 2252) Paul Taylor found it dated and the "obstinately unthrilling production does it few favours... Friedman is badly miscast". "Horrid costumes throughout... Zambello has directed the show in much the same way that Friedman performs the title role: as various kinds of artificiality... over-choreographed, trite, bogus," the FT. "Friedman is one of our finest musical-theatre talents but... she never comes close to moving you," shrugged The Daily Telegraph. "Friedman's stellar performance," saluted The Guardian. "The supporting cast is fine and Friedman more than fine," cooed The Times. "What are you waiting for?" cried the Mail.

Good score, hopeless design, helpless direction. Thank God for Charlotte Cornwell and James Dreyfus.? THE BALLET

Dance Bites

The Royal Ballet's brief tour of a six-part evening of works by new choreographers Cathy Marston, Tom Sapsford and Christopher Wheeldon and established names William Tuckett, Matthew Hart and Ashley Page, including the final performance by Adam Cooper, the star the company should never have let go.

The tour is over but some of the names will reappear.

Louise Levene was distinctly unimpressed. "If the Royal Ballet persists in such a low-key touring programme there is a very real danger that the nation's taxpayers will wonder what all the fuss is about." "We positively regretted we had wasted a whole evening on too much that was shoddy and worthless," thundered the Sunday Telegraph. "Too many eggs in one basket, not all of which hatch... generous in its courses, what it lacks is a main dish," worried The Sunday Times. "Opens most promisingly with a thoughtful work by Cathy Marston... It was left to Ashley Page to produce the most accomplished dance of the evening," declared The Times.

Touring small-scale work is fine in theory but there was too much of too little merit.

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