Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Cold Mountain"(2003) - REVIEW

In regards to Anthony Minghella's Oscar winning "The English Patient", my feelings have always mirrored those of Elaine Benes on "Seinfeld": I just don't understand why it gets so much love. So even though I enjoyed Charles Frazier's novel "Cold Mountain", I remained hesistant about renting the film because I knew that the now deceased Mr. Minghella was at the helm. Luckily, he redeems himself here. Though the film was shot in Romania, and starring very few American actors, Mr. Minghella still manages to capture the horrors of the Civil War, and the central long distance romance between Ada Monroe (Nicole Kidman) and W.P. Inman (Jude Law) with aplomb. When Inman is sent off to war, Ada thinks everything will be alright, and that (like everyone else) the war will be over "within a month". Unfortunately, when the war drags on and gets bloodier and bloodier, things take a turn for the worse. In the village around Cold Mountain, a group of thugs led by Teague (Ray Winstone) are slowly gaining control of the land while cruelly punishing anyone who they deem to be a deserter from the frontlines. When Ada's father dies, she finds herself in the worst situation possible, for she cannot do manual labor, and there are no young men left in town to help her. Enter Ruby Thewes (Renee "Blowfish" Zellweger), who hears of Ada's plight and comes to help Ada get her farm and herself into working form. As multi-national as the cast is, the cast all manage to pull off Southern accents (ranging from decent to pitch perfect) well enough so that they feel believable as Americans. Kidman and Law make good as soft spoken lovers, and Winstone is perfectly dispicable as Teague, but it's Zellweger who shines the most, making Ruby more than just a cheap comic relief character; she gives her true depth in addition to perfectly rattling off the wisecracks. In addition, the film boasts a handful of smaller roles, wonderfully performed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, and Donald Sutherland. Adding to the authentic feel are the rich costumes, striking cinematography (the shots of reddish smoke over the chaotic battlefields looked like paintings). However, despite the picturesque beauty, the film does not forget to show us that war is hell; some of the scenes, both in and out of battle, are harsh and unsettling. Who would've thought that a group of foreigners would make one of the best Civil War films in recent memory......

Grade: A-

Nominations for 2003: Best Picture(#4), Best Director - Anthony Minghella(#4), Best Actor - Jude Law(#3), Best Actress - Nicole Kidman(#5), Best Supporting Actress - Renee Zellweger(#2), Best Editing(#2), Best Adapted Screenplay(#2), Best Cinematography(#1 WINNER), Best Costume Design(#2), Best Art Direction(#3), Best Original Score - Gabriel Yared(#3).

And just for laughs:

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