Before Minghella could start work on his newest film project as writer and director, 'The Ninth Life Of Louis Drake', he died, whilst undergoing surgery. In spite of it being documented that he first made a name for himself with 'Truly Madly Deeply', Minghella's career actually hit its stride with 'The English Patient', a film that the quality within it can be felt by any cinemagoer, whether they have or haven't seen it.
Collecting nine Oscars at the 1997 Academy Awards, the cinematic tale of a disfigured man who falls in love placed Minghella firmly on the international movie scene. In spite of his acknowledgement as a top-quality director and screenwriter, he only made three other feature films between 1999 and 2006; 'The Talented Mr Ripley', 'Cold Mountain' and 'Breaking & Entering'. Well on its way to becoming a classic of modern cinema, 'The English Patient' seems to be the high-point of his overall career, which began when he was the script editor of 'Grange Hill'. Acclaimed as he was, he never really fitted the mould of the current crop of Hollywood directors. Some may that's a good thing, others might see it differently. As for me, I viewed him as being a film-maker that made the best use of the Hollywood system, embracing the quality-driven aspects of Tinseltown. His adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel was a Hollywood production, but he steered it away from being part of the 'conveyor-belt' mentality that some movie producers find hard to let go of. His directorial style seemed to get the best performances of the actors in his movies, regardless of whether they were A-List stars or not. He didn't seem to be a director that let celebrity status determine who was right for a particular role, and who wasn't.
Now he has passed away, we can only speculate on whether he had it in him to make another modern movie classic. Had he lived, I feel sure tha his talent would have enabled him to write and direct something that could be every bit as good as his 1996 romantic epic.
I'LL BE BACK THIS SUNDAY....