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Overall Rating
3.35

Awesome: 18.37%
Worth A Look39.29%
Average: 14.29%
Pretty Bad: 14.8%
Total Crap: 13.27%

13 reviews, 118 user ratings


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Cold Mountain
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by Stephen Groenewegen

"Picturesque tragedy"
4 stars

Cold Mountain is an adult love story, with the trappings of picturesque tragedy. Think Out of Africa, a film coincidentally directed by one of Cold Mountain’s producers, Sydney Pollack. It’s based on the novel, which won Charles Frazier the National Book Award for fiction in 1997 and was inspired by his great-great-uncle Inman’s trek home to North Carolina during the American Civil War.

Like Frazier’s ancestor, the film’s Inman (Jude Law) is a Confederate soldier injured during the siege of Petersberg (Virginia, 1864). Suffering from a bullet shot wound to the neck, Inman leaves the hospital before he can be sent back to fight a war he no longer believes in. He longs to return home to Cold Mountain, and the woman he’d met only a short time before heeding the call to arms.

Ada (Nicole Kidman) is daughter and companion to the Reverend Monroe (Donald Sutherland). His poor health has forced their relocation from the polite society of Charleston to a farm in the remote wilderness of the Appalachians. The pronouncement of war cuts short Inman’s tentative courtship of Ada and her father’s sudden passing leaves her ill equipped to face the coming winter alone. She writes to Inman, pleading for his speedy return. A rough-speaking young mountain woman, Ruby Thewes (Renée Zellweger), arrives on her porch instead.

Cold Mountain is about Ada and Ruby’s friendship, and Inman’s long journey back to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Although it begins with the catastrophic Battle of the Crater, adaptor-director Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) is interested in the effects of the war on people and society rather than the war itself. Inman is our guide as he undertakes a Homeric Odyssey across a country experiencing significant upheaval. Labelled a deserter by the tyrannical Home Guard local militia, he must evade them or risk summary execution.

During his journey, Inman has a series of rural backwoods encounters. For the most part, Minghella avoids giving the narrative a jerky, episodic feel. Despite diversions, Inman has a fixed goal and progresses surely towards it. Minghella is aided immeasurably by Walter Murch’s elegant editing and the seamless incorporation of flashbacks.

Nature and environment are strong themes, and John Seale’s cinematography is suitably evocative. Partly filmed in the American south, but mostly near the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania, Romania, the backdrops are stunning. Especially impressive is the snowy climax. The clean whiteness offers a stark contrast to the opening, with the mud and impenetrable orange-black smoke and confusion of the battlefield. Dante Ferretti’s suitably epic production design is also noteworthy.

Renée Zellweger contributes an inspired comic turn as the blunt and plucky Ruby, who savours freedom and independence above all else and takes no nonsense from nothing or nobody. She draws the film back just in time from the brink of preciousness and taking itself too seriously. Minghella emphasises and strengthens the romance of Frazier’s story. Kidman and Law make charismatic leads and are believably matched as lovers. Kidman enjoys acting out the film’s showiest transformation, from nervous and fidgety society belle to capable woman of the land. Disappointingly, her defiant aloof air and prickliness are abandoned in the transition from page to screen.

A prestige cast of players fill the many supporting roles, among them Ray Winstone, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Kathy Baker, Giovanni Ribisi, Lucas Black, Jena Malone and Eileen Atkins. Some of these characters verge on rustic stereotypes and Ribisi and his brood of lusty women are especially guilty of overplaying. Hoffman acts a randy priest erratically but amusingly, as if Minghella happened upon him wandering about drunk on location.

Like his previous film, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Minghella shoots with a cool detachment that sometimes distances more than it should. Minghella’s talent is not letting the large scale obstruct an intimate story. The parallel narratives involving Inman and Ada dovetail smoothly and each impressively encapsulates book and film’s key themes - of love, survival and independence, the longing for family, and moving from violence towards peace.

Occasionally Minghella oversteps the mark. Having Ada read Wuthering Heights to a semi-literate Ruby may suggest doomed romance, but it also signals hubris on a grand scale. My advice is to sit back and let Minghella’s painterly images and assured craftsmanship wash over you. Cold Mountain is a smooth and seductive treat.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8421&reviewer=104
originally posted: 12/21/03 11:01:37
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User Comments

4/20/13 R. Sibley It glorifies the civil war less than Gettysburg or Gods and Generals. Cheesy plot though. 3 stars
11/26/10 Jeff Wilder A better than average Civil War picture. Way better than the overrated English Patient. 4 stars
1/08/09 Rachel a good tomance! 4 stars
11/27/08 little Red pretty good, defidently not an up beat movie 3 stars
11/12/08 YahooBot Nice site, thanks for information! 5 stars
8/19/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting storyline. 4 stars
6/08/08 PAUL SHORTT A LOVE STORY THAT LEAVES YOU COLD 1 stars
7/03/07 Ionicera lacked many of the book's subtleties, but what movie doesn't? 4 stars
5/11/07 mb Good rythm, friendly to watch, but kind of empty and pointless. Without heart. Overkill. 4 stars
8/19/06 Verrine Nice take on Odysseus & Penelope. Loved Renee Zellweger & comic relief dad. 4 stars
8/01/06 R.W.Welch Watchable civil war opus tho much of the dialogue is nearly unintelligible. 4 stars
1/28/06 Steve Newman Get this out on DVD - NOW!! Very very enjoyable 5 stars
1/16/06 Frank Rountree Great story and the acting was superb! 5 stars
9/20/05 Jonathon Holmes save your money for "Return of the King" 2 stars
9/02/05 ES Top three actors in this movie are regular Oscar contenders, Oscars mean nothing 2 stars
7/24/05 B J GREAT FOR NICOLE LOVERS 4 stars
5/28/05 Kat bella and Jess Dear Ray we know u adn we r ur biggest fans luv kat jess and bella we put u in our english 5 stars
2/28/05 Ray Lampard A film for grownups at last 5 stars
2/05/05 Amy Bradshaw Beautiful! I love, love, love this movie. Beautiful Story. 5 stars
2/04/05 Aaron Smith Boring and slow. 2 stars
1/20/05 Landshark frequent missteps and boredom on a winding elephantine journey 2 stars
1/08/05 tatum What, all the southern American actors and actresses were busy? 1 stars
12/23/04 Tatiana Pretentious, insipid, and self-conscious of everything but its own suckiness. 1 stars
12/15/04 Etheridge Hoogendijk Yeah! Rather see Nicole Kidman or Natalie Portman ecstaticly end a bout of constipation! 4 stars
12/15/04 Jenna Furr Another sad tribute to dogma that "bodily functions" are strictly for buffoons. The rest OK 4 stars
12/15/04 Evangelica Schnapfenschalz Shows Renee Zellweger CAN act after all. Why waste her in more Bridget Jones's Diarrhea? 4 stars
11/07/04 Carlos Navarro Yuck! 2 stars
11/01/04 Charles S. Lewis Only a partial story of the seige of Petersburg, VA. in 1864 4 stars
10/24/04 Ebert Rogers Made me glad I wasn't born back then 4 stars
10/16/04 Denise Jude Law was good 5 stars
9/13/04 Matt Lousy movie but it reminded me how badly I want to fuck Nicole Kidman. 2 stars
9/05/04 Monster W. Kung Overly melodramatic, with fucking HORRIBLE music. 2 stars
8/28/04 capitalbliss I enjoyed this movie, the soundtrack even more, but it's just a good movie. 4 stars
8/05/04 Chris excellent story. great acting. movie looked great. I enjoyed this film. 5 stars
7/27/04 Phil M. Aficionado Very solid movie, romantic and beautiful. Antiwar and anti-testorone without preaching. 4 stars
7/18/04 Chuck I loved the bird in the Church scene...it showed Ada who the real Inman was...sigh... 5 stars
7/12/04 Darryl Jude Law excellent. A pretty good movie, but didn't like ending. Inman should've lived. 4 stars
7/09/04 djacosta Kidman's ass made my mouth water 3 stars
7/06/04 Sara Bosie was awesome! 5 stars
7/04/04 Jeff Semlow Jude Law was great as usual, but overall just a so/so movie 3 stars
6/22/04 S.F Great movie ! 4 stars
6/04/04 Elizaveta Great music, very involving, good characters, horrors of war, etc. Very good, all in all. 4 stars
5/14/04 earl duron great movie with superb acting 5 stars
5/14/04 Idiot's Mouth Muskewitz is a tool--this sucked, HARD! Give Kidman back; Aussies need waitresses too.... 1 stars
4/19/04 y2mckay colorful supporting characters make up for bloated love story and bloated running time. 3 stars
4/15/04 Ashlee It was too much of an anti-climax at the end, didn't feel satisfied after watching it. 4 stars
4/03/04 DM Doesn't suck but a big, bloated disappointment - Good try, though 3 stars
4/02/04 movieboy Wonderful movie. Grear acting from Jude Law and Nicole kidman and defently Renne zellweger 5 stars
3/19/04 Tam Powerful but emotionally draining viewing. Law should have won the Best Actor Oscar! 4 stars
3/18/04 Dasha Very beautiful and very sad 5 stars
3/06/04 Jaco Visser How bitter is war? Go watch Cold Mtn.! 4 stars
3/06/04 John Doe This is a great movie and tells an intrigueing story 5 stars
3/03/04 Chow Yun Fatt I woud stay with Portman and never return to Cold Mountain 4 stars
3/03/04 A Film Critic ???You, critics, consider "American Pie" better than Fassbinder? 5 stars
3/01/04 bb absolutely fascinating 5 stars
2/29/04 jimmy two times A shitty version of the English Patient meets Gone with the Wind. Minghellahas done better. 3 stars
2/28/04 Kyle All involved have done better. About as gripping and realistic as "See Spot Run". 1 stars
2/16/04 Carolyn Haywood Total disregard for period, place and people! He failed to capture anything but pomp. 2 stars
2/13/04 Ashley Corpening Good! I'm glad it has the chutzpah to depict war crimes by soldiers on both sides. 4 stars
2/11/04 Ixnay on shades of silliest parts of DANCES WITH WOLVES I hope for a day in movies when constipation can strike heros not just villains&buffoons! 4 stars
2/11/04 NC mountain lover who would've liked authentic scenery better C'mon, both Kidman's performance & movie blow "Hours" SO far out of water!! 4 stars
2/01/04 Smitty Kidman in "Hours" was amazing - here she was just sleepwalking - face was always too clean 3 stars
1/31/04 Mary O'Reilly Duclos Shallow, superficial, dishonest, boring,Silly,trite,overblown,oversized and overlong. 2 stars
1/28/04 Travis needs alot of work 2 stars
1/27/04 caleb murphy it sucked, no emotion 1 stars
1/27/04 Cat Smith While I loved English Patient, I found this film boring. 3 stars
1/26/04 JKEEN Depressing, nasty, overly long and painfully boring. Can't remember hating a movie more. 1 stars
1/26/04 Graham I keep telling myself, it's just Oscar-bait. But I still love it. 5 stars
1/25/04 124 renee has to be thee most overrated actress 1 stars
1/24/04 john bale Its not that its such a bad film its just that Gone With The Wind is so good ! 3 stars
1/24/04 alien assassin This was a well made historic drama. If you think it was boring, you must have ADD !!!!! 4 stars
1/24/04 Elena It's a well-crafted movie, but nothing new, and altogether way over-hyped. Kidman is bland. 3 stars
1/20/04 Andy Woodhead Yawn, Boring, Crap 1 stars
1/19/04 esquire gay 3 stars
1/18/04 VALERIE YOU MISS SO MUCH AS A CRITIC, I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU. IF YOU WOULD JUST WATCH IT TO ENJOY IT. 5 stars
1/17/04 Emperor's New Clothes? Nope. Just a Fat, Ugly, Naked, Guy. Like a prettily wrapped gift--thats empty. Beautiful but a littletoo cold on Cold Mountain. 4 stars
1/17/04 KingNeutron Sex scene really wasn't necessary; but otherwise enjoyable. Portman was great. 4 stars
1/16/04 Joe Kacmarynski Invoked all my emotions: love, hate, anger, humor,pity. Renee Zellweger for best supporting 5 stars
1/16/04 Ralph R. Clemente Zellweger is great - picture is good 4 stars
1/15/04 Betty White Nice period flavor cannot save this overlong, un-romantic drama. 2 stars
1/12/04 Happy Hour kidman+law=zero chemestry. Movie was dull and slow. 2 1/2 hours of my life wasted. 1 stars
1/10/04 Daniel Movie honors the book. Renée stole every scene. Effects so-so(see turkey shoot- ugh!) 4 stars
1/09/04 Amy Kearns Awsome cast and great movie 5 stars
1/08/04 Mark F. no chemistry between the stars and a silly, silly plot! 2 stars
1/08/04 jdogg bad book=bad movie. this ain't history, folks--it's melodrama. 1 stars
1/08/04 Becca Kidman fine, Law marvellously understated, Zellweger showing us how underrated she has been 5 stars
1/08/04 Sara DeVine That's it Hollywood. I've been abused for the last time! 1 stars
1/07/04 Glen Overcah. Wonderful movie.Kidman,Law and Zellwegger pull you into this world of bygone days. 5 stars
1/06/04 Susanna Terrible movie, poorly written and directed, but Natalie Portman's performance is great. 2 stars
1/05/04 Brenda Cold Mountain is a beautiful poem about the triumph of Venus over Mars. 5 stars
1/05/04 J. KNIGHT GREAT SCENERY, ZELLWEGER IS AWSOME 4 stars
1/05/04 Lily wtf is your reviewer's problem!? It was a GREAT movie! What is he, blind or something? 4 stars
1/03/04 A F How many chances did he have to get on a horse? Predictable and boring! 1 stars
1/02/04 Andrea Watson I think its a great story but i did not feel the chemistry between ada and Inman 3 stars
1/01/04 Soo Can Ho-hum 3 stars
1/01/04 jdogg Book simplistic and overwrought; movie no better. This South better not rise again. 1 stars
1/01/04 Mattie G (Surprisingly) good movie ... Little to no emotional impact after watching though. 4 stars
1/01/04 Jane Smith An awesome movie! Devastatingly romantic! 5 stars
12/31/03 --- Anyone who doesnt like this movie has no taste and should burn in hell 5 stars
12/30/03 ownerofdajoint fantastic flick;war is a motherfucker and love is all there is.... 5 stars
12/30/03 Bryant Smith Whoever said this movie outdid the book did not read the book. Law and Kidman do nothing. 2 stars
12/30/03 George Jung Paint by numbers drama with a bullshit ending and an unlikable hero. 1 stars
12/30/03 Alonzo P. Tucker well, i'd never let that crazy goat lady watch my cats... 2 stars
12/30/03 Kelly B Rapturous love story? Is Corliss of Time on crack? Harlequin romance without Fabio. 1 stars
12/29/03 costars Big, Beautiful, Interesting, Intense, Intimate, from a great book a truly first rate film 5 stars
12/29/03 VERA VANICEK Decent movie, too long 3 stars
12/29/03 smartmusician Its a superb movie with great acting, don't know why many don't like it. 5 stars
12/29/03 Bruce Bowe Too long. Some of the parts are better than the sum of the parts. Bad story premise. 2 stars
12/29/03 Jennifer Where does Anthony Minghella get his overblown ideas of romantic love? Did he read the book 2 stars
12/27/03 jamierich godawful bore... who cares about these characters? 1 stars
12/27/03 Pheasant This little movie sucked the merry right out of Christmas!! Ughhhh! 1 stars
12/27/03 regis dreadful 1 stars
12/26/03 Linda Totally awesome.... 5 stars
12/26/03 Emperor's New Clothes? Nope. Just a Fat, Ugly, Naked, Guy. Fpr a Hollywood movie, what more can you expect? 5 stars
12/26/03 Tom Pugh Good, entertaining production. Grim. Epic values, good music, two endings one a cop out. 4 stars
12/26/03 Rose Donovan very shallow lust story - well filmed 4 stars
12/25/03 Superdave its all right, not great. whats all the hubub about? 3 stars
12/24/03 nuke sleeper bomb 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  25-Dec-2003 (R)
  DVD: 29-Jun-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  01-Jan-2004




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