presents a film written and directed by Anthony Minghella.
Based on the book by Charles Frazier. Running time: 155
minutes. Rated R (for violence and sexuality/nudity).
Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, Kathy Baker,
Aileen Atkins, Natalie Portman, Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Giovanni Ribisi, Brendan Gleeson, Charlie Hunnam, Ray
Winstone, Donald Sutherland, Jack White.
is a rather unconventional film, a love story in which the
romance between the two main characters hardly seems like
the point. When the two are finally reunited, we're happy
for them, but the destination of the trip is less important
(and less interesting) than the journey itself.
(Jude Law) is a laborer living in Cold Mountain, North Carolina.
He is a quiet man, content with his life of solitude. When
Ada (Nicole Kidman) and her minister father (Donald Sutherland)
move into Cold Mountain, he is instantly smitten. Ada is immediately
attracted to Innman as well, and after only a few meetings
they have fallen madly in love with each other. But they never
get a chance to form a real relationship, because Inman is
soon sent off to fight in the Civil War.
is gone for several years, and Ada continues to hope for his
return and send him letters. While in a hospital bed, Inman
recieves a letter from Ada; "If you are fighting,"
it reads, "quit fighting. If you are marching, quit marching.
Come back to me." And Inman does - he gets out of his
bed, and sneaks away in the night, heading back to Cold Mountain.
He treks through the wilderness, avoiding the army (he is
a deserter, after all) and running into several interesting
characters, including an adulterous preacher (Philip Seymour
Hoffman) and a widowed mother (Natalie Portman).
meanwhile, is having trouble maintaining the farm after the
death of her father. So Ruby Thewes (Renée Zellweger),
a strong-willed southern woman, is sent to help out. Upon
arriving, the first thing Ruby does (other than berate Ada),
is rip the head off of a troublesome rooster. Soon, the farm
is nearing its former glory. But not all is well; the head
of the local "home guards" (Ray Winstone, deliciously
evil) has his eye on Ada and her land. Things continue to
get worse when Ruby's father (Brendan Gleeson), another deserter,
and his band of musicians (including a surprisingly good Jack
White, of the "White Stripes") show up for a visit.
enough for a love story, the relationship between Inman and
Ada is never really fully developed. We can believe that they're
in love, and Kidman and Law share a certain degree of chemistry,
but there is very little presented to make us buy it completely.
Having not read Charles Frazier's novel, I can't say whether
it is the same there, but the film seems more interested in
what happens to bring the two together than them actually
being together. In a lesser film, this would have bothered
me, but because the two individual stories are so good, all
it does here is prevent Cold Mountain from being the
masterpiece it could have been.
Law has had a certain degree of mainstream success throughout
his career, but it is work in Cold Mountain that should
make him a truly bankable movie star. He never goes over-the-top
to portray love or pain, but lets his face and eyes do most
of the work. Nicole Kidman is good, but not exemplary or Oscar-worthy
(although she'll probably get nominated). Renée Zellweger
steals the movie, with an energetic and enjoyable performance
that fully develops Ruby into a person, rather than a caricature.
If I was forced to list who will win Oscars next year, Zellweger's
name would be next to Supporting Actress.
actors that Law runs into give performances that range from
cameos to fully-formed, but all of them do great work. Philip
Seymour Hoffman is hilarious as the philandering holy man,
and Giovanni Ribisi is entertaining. Natalie Portman is simply
wonderful as the sad mother, capturing every nuance of her
character in even the short time she has on screen.
John Seale has created a gorgeous motion picture, with lush
landscapes and beautiful imagery. Nearly everything about
Cold Mountain is good, and it all adds up to make a
great movie, and one that will undoubtably catch the Academy's
attention come February. Too bad the love story isn't as interesting
as it could be; if it was, this may have been the single best
movie of the year, rather than just one of the best.
2003 Matt Noller