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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.18%
Worth A Look39.9%
Average: 14.14%
Pretty Bad: 14.65%
Total Crap: 13.13%

13 reviews, 120 user ratings

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Cold Mountain
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by MP Bartley

"It's such a long journey to Cold Mountain..."
2 stars

Ok voters, get your checklist out...Based on a highly acclaimed novel? Check. Themes of sweeping romance amongst warfare? Check. Hottest cast possible, including recent Oscar winners? Check. Has the director got an Oscar? Check. Alrighty then, we got ourselves a winner! Oh, actually hold on...

It would seem that 'Cold Mountain' has the all the required ingredients for a sure-fire winner. Director Anthony Minghella certainly knows how to take epic stories and give them lavish settings and memorable characters. Add to that a cast list which has more than it's fair share of quality - Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Renee Zellwegger, Brendan Gleeson, Natalie Portman, Donald Sutherland, Ray Winstone amongst others - and you would think you have a winner on your hands. But you don't. What you have is a mis-fire that lacks the quality to hold these ingredients together.

Kidman is Ada Monroe, daughter of a reverend (Sutherland) who has just moved to the Carolina farmlands of Cold Mountain. There she meets the introspective joiner, Inman (Law). An attraction between the two is obvious, but one kiss later Inman is packed off to the civil war, and one heart attack later, Ada is forced to run the farm herself while fighting off the attentions of local lawman Teague (Winstone) who has set himself up as judge, jury and executioner of Cold Mountain. The only help she has comes from local hillbilly Ruby (Zellwegger).

Inman surprisingly doesn't like war and instead deserts with the aim of returning to Ada and Cold Mountain.

It's a long journey and one that you'll feel every step of the way with him. Not because this is an exhausting, dangerous journey like say 'Lawrence of Arabia' or 'The Lord of the Rings' but because it's just so damn boring. Clocking in at over 2 hours and 20 minutes, someone should have done Minghella a favour and torn out some of the pages of the book, or even better the script. Instead, Inman and the film itself, trudges ever onwards in the search of something, anything to help spark some interest in the proceedings. The narrative of 'Cold Mountain' can be pretty summed up as such Inman walks - meets someone - they're good - he walks some more - meets someone - they're bad! - walks some more - meets someone else - they're good - oh, no wait they're bad.

It's easy to dismiss the film in such simple terms, but the fact of the matter is that rarely is any of this interesting. For every person that Inman meets that makes an impression - Philip Seymour Hoffman is particularly good as a sleazy priest - he'll meet two more that do nothing more than hold up the plot and break up any momentum that Minghella has got going.

There's also little sense of time or space. How far or how long has Inman been wandering (and wandering sums up this film quite neatly)? Who knows, a few days, two weeks, 6 months... it's never made clear. Likewise, how far apart they are is a matter of guesswork. All this combines to leave you with little narrative to grasp.

Furthermore, it's one of the least atmospheric films you'll see for a long time. The opening blood and mud battle of St Petersburg would seem to be a good portent of things to come, but it's far, far too brief and the only time there's a sense of history. Apart from that, Inman's trek could be a pleasureable backyard stroll. Ditto for the action at Cold Mountain. No real sense of the hardship or of the biting winters that hit hard. Everything looks far too pleasant.

Most films can be rescued with a great cast. 'Cold Mountain' has a great cast. But they don't work. Jude Law always has presence, for his cheekbones if nothing else, but he needs more to give the audience, for us to care about Inman. A quiet man at the best of times, the long passages of dialogue-free travelling that Inman features in give us a frustratingly vague picture of the man. Law just doesn't have anything going on behind the eyes to give us a clue at the anger or horror inside the character. Inman hates war? Show me a forcibly enlisted soldier that doesn't.

Kidman manages to give us more about Ada, but has one problem - she's far too old. Ada calls for a virginal woman in her early to mid-twenties. Kidman is in her forties, and never rings true in the part. Zellwegger is taking a lot of the critical acclaim for her screeching Ruby, with an accent that's either authentic or annoying depending on your point of view. Ultimately it's the brief parts that stick in the mind in the most - Brendan Gleeson's and Jack White's travelling musicians, Natalie Portman's young mother. It's probably no co-incidence that the film finally picks up and becomes as moving or as dramatic as it should have been when Portman enters. In fact put her in Kidman's part, and you'd have a much more realistic Ada and a much better film. The reason 'Cold Mountain' doesn't descend into one-star suckage are the performances of the minor players such as these.

The main problem that 'Cold Mountain' has, is that the love story is in the wrong place. 'Cold Mountain' just loves itself and the love between Ada and Inman never rings true. It's perhaps stretching belief that they'd become so obsessed with each other after one kiss, but the film never works to fill in the romance. It's sketchy at best, but the film asks you to take it on trust, because it's so IMPORTANT and it's about LOVE after all. A film has to do more than just shout "Look it's about love I tell you! Just feel sad...NOW". There's no real emotion, just Minghella convinced that his story is so worthy we'll fall in love with his film, without him having the decency to work at it.

Maybe if there'd been more of an attempt to give it an actual atmosphere or a solid story, then it would have worked, but instead 'Cold Mountain' just limps along to it's painfully obvious and cliched end. Sometimes what seems to be the right cast, the right material and the right director...just aren't right.

If you've ever seen an episode of 'The Waltons' you might have a good idea of the way that 'Cold Mountain' ends. Because as well as being boring and in love with itself, 'Cold Mountain' has it's fair share of cheeseball moments. Every Southern character offers goofy, farmland platitudes that grate and by the time Ada is seeing visions in a well and Inman has visited a witch, you might think you've wandered into 'Scary Movie 4' by mistake. Portman, Winstone and Seymour Hoffman aside, there's very little to champion about 'Cold Mountain'. And that includes YOU Academy. It's such a long journey to Cold Mountain, you'll have probably forgotten why you've took it by the time you get there.

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originally posted: 01/27/04 03:07:14
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User Comments

10/23/20 Ed Riddick Great actors and beautiful presentation largely compensate for weaknesses. It grows on you 4 stars
12/29/17 morris campbell good if this your cup of tea 4 stars
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
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
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 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
1/17/04 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 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
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  25-Dec-2003 (R)
  DVD: 29-Jun-2004



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