Film: Cold Mountain

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Film:

Cold Mountain

Director: Anthony Minghella
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Distributor: Miramax Home Entertainment

Freely adapted from Charles Frazier’s beloved bestseller, Cold Mountain boasts an impeccable pedigree as a respectable Civil War love story, offering everything you’d want from a romantic epic except a resonant emotional core. Everything in this sweeping, Odyssean journey depends on believing in the instant love that ignites during a very brief encounter between genteel, city-bred preacher’s daughter Ada (Nicole Kidman) and Confederate soldier Inman (Jude Law), who deserts the battlefield to return, weary and wounded, to Ada’s inherited farm in the…

Reviews

Amazon.com

Freely adapted from Charles Frazier’s beloved bestseller, Cold Mountain boasts an impeccable pedigree as a respectable Civil War love story, offering everything you’d want from a romantic epic except a resonant emotional core. Everything in this sweeping, Odyssean journey depends on believing in the instant love that ignites during a very brief encounter between genteel, city-bred preacher’s daughter Ada (Nicole Kidman) and Confederate soldier Inman (Jude Law), who deserts the battlefield to return, weary and wounded, to Ada’s inherited farm in the rural town of Cold Mountain, North Carolina. In an epic (but dramatically tenuous) case of absence making hearts grow fonder, Inman endures a treacherous hike fraught with danger (and populated by supporting players including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, and others) while the struggling, inexperienced Ada is aided by the high-spirited Ruby (Renée Zellweger), forming a powerful farming partnership that transforms Ada into a strong, lovelorn survivor. The film’s episodic structure slightly weakens its emotional impact, and it’s fairly obvious that director Anthony Minghella is striving to repeat the prestigious romanticism of his Oscar®-winning hit The English Patient. For the most part it works, especially in the dynamic performances of Zellweger and Kidman, and the explosive 1864 battle of Petersburg, Virginia, is recreated with violent, percussive intensity. Those who admired Frazier’s novel may regret some of the changes made in Minghella’s adaptation (the ending is particularly altered), but Cold Mountain remains a high-class example of grand, old-fashioned filmmaking, boosted by star power of the highest order. —Jeff Shannon

Barnes and Noble

Eyebrows were raised when the acclaimed Charles Frazier novel—set in North Carolina during the Civil War—wound up in the hands of British director Anthony Minghella, with Australian actress Nicole Kidman and British actor Jude Law cast as the film’s romantic leads, two American Southerners. But as with Minghella’s deft adaptation of The English Patient, his take on Cold Mountain is a deeply satisfying cinematic experience. The film opens in the closing days of the bloody conflict, where the wounded Confederate soldier Inman (Law) begins a dogged odyssey home to North Carolina’s Cold Mountain, where he hopes to resume his romance with preacher’s daughter Ada Monroe (Kidman). Since the death of her father, Ada’s been struggling to farm her land and is relying on the help of Ruby Thewes (Renée Zellweger), a resourceful drifter with whom she forms a pragmatic but increasingly fond relationship. Employing lengthy flashbacks, extraordinary settings (the film was shot in Romania), and evocative roots music, Minghella does a remarkable job of retaining the book’s multifarious characters and situations—so much so that, even at 150 minutes, the film seems packed with incident enough for three movies. At times the pace flags, but the rich production and superb characterizations trump the occasional ponderousness. Law and Kidman are equally convincing, and Zellweger richly deserved the Oscar she won for her supporting role. The rest of the large cast is also distinguished, with plum roles going to Philip Seymour Hoffman, Eileen Atkins, Natalie Portman, Donald Sutherland, Kathy Baker, Brendan Gleeson, and Ray Winstone, among others. What’s more, the period is re-created with scrupulous attention to detail, making it easy for viewers to lose themselves in this epic drama. Ed Hulse

Related Works

Album:Cold Mountain: Music From The Motion Picture

Cold Mountain: Music From The Motion Picture

Gabriel Yared

Director Anthony Minghella’s take on Charles Frazier’s bestselling novel is powered by wistful romanticism and a dramatic structure that’s been compared to Homer’s Odyssey. That latter creative tack parallels the Coens’ O Brother, Where Art Thou in crucial ways, and is further enhanced by another T-Bone Burnett-produced soundtrack of Appalachian-inflected folk traditionals, sympathetic originals by diverse songwriters (Elvis Costello and Sting), and a core of gritty performances (the White Stripe’s Jack White and Alison Krauss) that rise above mere…

Book:Cold Mountain: A Novel

Cold Mountain: A Novel

Charles Frazier

One of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain is a masterpiece that is at once an enthralling adventure, a stirring love story, and a luminous evocation of a vanished American in all its savagery, solitude, and splendor.

Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, Inman, a Confederate soldier, decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge Mountains and to Ada, the woman he loved there years before. His trek across the disintegrating South brings him into intimate and sometimes lethal converse with slaves and marauders, bounty hunters and witches, both helpful and malign. At the same time, Ada is trying to revive her father’s derelict farm and learn to survive in a world where the old certainties have been swept away. As it interweaves their stories, Cold Mountain asserts itself as an authentic American Odyssey—hugely powerful, majestically lovely, and keenly moving.

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