“THE OTTOMAN LIEUTENANT” My rating: C
106 minutes | MPAA rating: R
“The Ottoman Lieutenant” flirts with heavy-duty subject matter — the onset of World War I, the origins of the Armenian genocide — but at heart it’s basically a romance novel of no particular distinction.
Lillie (Hera Hilmer) was born to a wealthy Philadelphia family, but she can’t wait to leave her privileged life behind. Against her parents’ wishes she has studied nursing.
Now, after attending a fund-raising lecture by an American MD (Josh Hartnett) operating a clinic in a far-flung region of Turkey, she finds the inspiration to travel across the ocean to dedicate herself to serving the poor of the Anatolia region.
Since the road from Constantinople is unsafe for a lone woman, Lillie is given a military escort, a dashing young lieutenant, Ismail (Michiel Huisman, a Danish actor familiar from the HBO series “Treme” and “Game of Thrones”). After a few close calls she is delivered to the remote clinic, where she is welcomed by Jude, the physician whose speech so inspired her.
A rather less hearty greeting is provided by the cranky and disillusioned Dr. Woodruff (Ben Kingsley), who doubts the usefulness of a moneyed American girl…at least until Lillie proves her worth in the wards and operating room.