PSIPOOK | reviews | cold mountain


Love, War/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/155mins
Starring: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger
Director: Anthony Minghella

Cold Mountain is an enjoyable and worthwhile film, but it is not necessarily the film you think you went to see.

The director is Anthony Minghella who brought us the English Patient and the two films have much in common. Minghella deals with big real-world issues — love, death, brutality, responsibility, etc. — but he somehow fails to convince that the real world he inhabits is the same real world the rest of us live in.

Cold Mountain is the tale of two lovers separated by the American Civil War — Jude Law is shy awkward country lad Inman, and Nicole Kidman is the terribly self-assured Ada. Implausibly, with barely a word but lots of meaningful stares, Law and Kidman fall for each other just in time for Law to be carted off to war.

The story splits in two. Kidman’s father dies and she is left to fend for herself and to fend off the compellingly nasty Teague (Ray Winstone) who claims dibs on Ada for himself. Meanwhile, Inman is cast into the horrors of the war. At the bloody battle of Petersberg — an actual historical event, and here a powerful set piece — Inman acquits himself bravely, but sickened by the carnage and pining for Ada, deserts. So begins a Homeric trek across war ravaged South in which Law encounters unspeakable brutality and is tempted by various sirens. The naïve country lad has his nose rubbed in the realities of the world. The transformation in Inman is conveyed with utter conviction in Law’s scarred and beaten face.

Yet, for a film that deals with big issues, it suffers from an otherworldlyness. The war was about slavery, but there is barely a black face let alone a slave or mention of the issues. Perhaps the love story is too slight to hold together the disparate elements of this big tale. In the end Cold Mountain is a bold and beautiful film that will leaving you muttering objections right up until you cave in and go watch it again.

Review by Chris Page

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