Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary with Anthony Minghella
and Walter Murch; 'Climbing Cold Mountain' documentary (70 mins);
'A Journey To Cold Mountain' making of special (28 mins). 'Words
and Music of Cold Mountain' - Royce Hall special (93 mins). Deleted
scenes; Sacred Heart History; Storyboard comparisons.
IN A year which has been marked by a definite swing back towards
a more traditional approach to story-telling at the cinema (Seabiscuit,
The Lord of the Rings,
etc), it is, perhaps, fitting, that 2003 should be brought to
a close by this old-school epic.
Cold Mountain is Anthony Minghellas gripping adaptation
of Charles Fraziers acclaimed novel, featuring Jude Law
as wounded Confederate soldier, Inman, who treks back to be reunited
with his would-be lover, Ada (Nicole Kidman), against insurmountable
The film works as both a nod to Homers Odyssey, set against
the backdrop of the American Civil War, and as a glorious throwback
to epics such as Gone With The Wind, while also functioning on
a spiritual level, in terms of Inmans journey towards some
sort of personal redemption.
And while the much-touted romance between the two leads might
not work as effectively as it should, partly due to the fact that
it doesnt stem from an all-consuming love in the first place,
the film remains a beautifully acted, and sumptuously shot, epic,
which should fare well in terms of nominations come next years
It also bears all the hallmarks of a Minghella production, containing
the same tragic wartime elements of The English Patient, as well
as the dark tone of The Talented Mr Ripley, and neatly contrasting
the romantic interludes with an unflinching portrayal of the brutality
which exists around them.
The director, himself, states that
he wasnt simply trying to make a love story about a man
and a woman, but something which involves a journey for both characters;
while the intense bond which develops between them during the
three years they are separated, is borne out of research which
shows that when death is very close at hand, life becomes
very urgent and accelerates relationships.
Ada serves as much as a metaphor for home, as it does a chance
for Inman to be reunited with a loved one, and to share some intimacy
and tenderness with someone he cares for, at a time when he has
lost sight of the person he was when he set off for war.
Perhaps it is for this reason that Cold Mountain fails to function
as the out and out weepie it could so easily have become, but
while the die-hard romantics may feel a little cheated by the
directors somewhat cold, detached approach, it doesnt
detract from the overall power of the piece, or the quality of
Law is typically excellent as the wounded Confederate, neatly
shrugging aside his good-looks to deliver a performance which
is both tender and brutal, while Kidman continues to demonstrate
what a fine actress she is, and why she remains so sought-after.
But it is the supporting players who consistently threaten to
walk away with the acting honours, with Renée Zellweger,
especially, injecting some much-needed humour in her feisty turn
as the rough n ready Ruby, who arrives at Adas
farm to offer her assistance and life lessons.
While the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman, as a promiscuous priest,
Natalie Portman, as a desperate single mother, Ray Winstone, as
a despicable villain, and Giovanni Ribisi, as a turncoat, also
provide telling cameos, serving to ensure that Inmans journey,
while long, never becomes tedious, or dull.
And while the picturesque landscape of Romania (doubling as North
Carolina) provides for a sweeping backdrop, the visceral beauty
is nicely offset by some harsh violence, which serves to illustrate
the ruthlessness and sheer wastefulness of war, and the effect
it has on mens souls.
Richly compelling, consistently mature and deeply thought-provoking,
Cold Mountain is the final must-see movie of 2003.