Wide sweeping vistas and a romantic musical score add to The Ottoman Lieutenant’s compelling war drama. It’s a moving and defiant love story, one that reaches audiences far and wide with a chance for women to revel in its forbidden romance. If you like sagas that titillate your imagination sending you back to an era that’s almost forgotten, then this is your cup of tea.
When the first scene opens its 1914 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Nurse Lillie Rowe (Hera Hilmar) sees a lot of commotion as a black man gets helped into a nearby examining room. He’s bleeding profusely from the neck and she quickly attempts to give him aid. Begging a doctor nearby for help, he rebukes her as the chief of staff enters the room demanding that the injured man be brought to a hospital that will take him. It’s a gut wrenching scene that shows the temperament of the times.
Later we see Lillie enter a formal hall where Jude Gresham (Josh Hartnett) a young doctor is presenting his message to the group about the American Medical Hospital in Van, a small village in Anatolia and a part of the Ottoman Empire. He is asking for help in the way of medical supplies to continue its work. During his presentation, Lillie becomes transfixed as he tells of the unspeakable violence and transgressions that are all around the medical mission. Looking into the eyes of the people in the photographs, she is slowly committing herself to Dr. Gresham’s needs.
At a reception for Dr. Gresham at her parents’ lavish estate, Lillie introduces herself to the handsome man. She takes him to the garage and offers him a truck that can be used to bring supplies to his hospital. But, there’s one catch, Lillie want to go along with the truck and work at the hospital.
With World War I at the doorstep of the Ottoman Countries, she embarks on her journey that will lead her to performing under perilous circumstances, making decisions that could put herself in a war zone and finding unexpected romance beyond her wildest dreams. Director Joseph Ruben moves his film along at a fast pace once Lillie has arrived in the Ottoman Empire. He adds characters that affect her directly as she becomes at odds with Dr. Gresham and his superior Dr. Garrett Woodruff (Ben Kingsley).
It is good to see Josh Harnett back up on the big screen after three years on the TV. Here he gives a very good performance as the young doctor on a mission to save the people of the small city of Van. He’s determined to help the people and at the same time has a crush on his newest helper Lillie who has come to his part of the world. He’s also a conflicted man who has a jealous streak that overpowers him.
Sharing the spotlight is Michiel Huisman as Ismail the Ottoman Lieutenant that helps Lillie cross through perilous lands under siege to get to her to Van. He’s a strong fighter and a man who gets what he wants. In this case his eye on the prize is Lillie who he’ll do anything to keep safe from harm. He shines as Ismail taking a lot of valuable screen time in his quest to woo her. Huisman played Daario Naharis Commander of the mercenary army Second Sons in Game of Thrones.
On the downside Hera Hilmar is not up to the task as she’s too meek and weak making her character a dull insipid Lillie. She shows no chemistry between Lillie and either Ismail or Jude, the two men who are enamored by her beauty. She’s totally limp at times when she needs to be sensual and Lillie shows a lack of emotion. Hilmar just doesn’t fit the part.
The Ottoman Lieutenant has been rated R by the MPAA for some war violence. It also has a scene of sensuality. I do like the cinematography using Istanbul and Cappadocia, Turkey where the movie was filmed. The costumes are also a plus giving the period piece a realistic look.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A nice chick flick for the ladies
Additional Film Information:
Cast: Michiel Huisman, Hera Hilmar, Josh Hartnett and Ben Kingsley
Directed by: Joseph Ruben
Genre: Drama, War
MPAA Rating: R for some war violence
Running Time: 1 hr. 46 min.
Release Date: March 10, 2017
Distributed by: Paladin