'The Ottoman Lieutenant' Is An Enjoyably Predictable War Romance (review)

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'The Ottoman Lieutenant' is an enjoyably predictable war romance (review)

Ottoman_.jpg Michiel Huisman and Josh Hartnett star in "The Ottoman Lieutenant." (Courtesy of Paladin Films) Print Email >Michael Heaton, The Plain Dealer By Michael Heaton, The Plain Dealer The Plain Dealer

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on March 09, 2017 at 8:00 AM, updated March 09, 2017 at 8:11 AM

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- "The Ottoman Lieutenant" is a big, sprawling, old-fashioned, romantic World War I epic, complete with a fiery love triangle for the ages.

It's curious that the movie's two leads -- Michiel Huisman as Ismail, the "lieutenant" of the title, and Hera Hilmar as Lillie, an American nurse -- are both relative unknowns. In the supporting cast are Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley as Dr. Woodruff and American heartthrob Josh Hartnett as Jude, an American doctor.

Regardless, everyone in the cast pulls his or her own weight, and the result is a crowd-pleasing if somewhat predictably melodramatic turn-of-the-20th-century war story.

We first meet Lillie Rowe in the Philadelphia hospital where she works as an emergency room nurse. The doctors there have turned away a bleeding man because he is black. Lillie is outraged by their blatant racism.

Later that week, she attends a talk by Dr. Jude, who is visiting from politically troubled Europe attempting to recruit financial aid for the Armenians, who are on the verge of being slaughtered by the Turks.

Lillie invites Jude home to have dinner with her wealthy parents. She complains to him about the racism in her hospital. He tells her he would never abide such behavior.

After dinner, she shows Jude an ambulance in the family barn her late brother had hoped to use in his medical practice. Jude declines the offer, citing the difficulty and expense involved in getting the vehicle to Europe.

In the very next scene, despite objections from her parents, Lillie is in war-torn Turkey driving the truck to Jude's rudimentary field hospital, where he works with the burned-out and ether-addicted Dr. Woodruff (Kingsley) attending to the medical needs of Armenian refugees.

There she meets Ismail, the tall, dark and handsome lieutenant. Sparks fly, and soon the two are taking long horse rides in fields of wind-blown golden grain. The affair is right out of pulpy, bodice-ripper fiction.

Dr. Jude hates Ismail for his persecution of the Armenian refugees and is jealous of him for capturing Lillie's heart. A fistfight between them soon boils over and sets the tone for the rocky love triangle, which dominates the rest of the story.

Though the dialogue leaves much to be desired, the story moves rapidly along, keeping the audience engaged until the inevitable showdown you knew was coming all along.

"The Ottoman Lieutenant" may not thrill or surprise audiences, but it doesn't let them down either.

REVIEW

The Ottoman Lieutenant

Who: With Michiel Huisman, Hera Hilmar, Josh Hartnett, Ben Kingsley and Haluk Bilginer. Directed by Joseph Ruben.

Rated: PG-13.

Running time: 109 minutes.

Where: Area theaters.

When: Opens Friday.

Grade: B

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