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4.2 out of 5 stars
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This ambitious, epic, mostly successful film is based on not one but two of my favourite books: Charles Frazier`s great novel of the same name, which is in its turn loosely based on Homer`s Odyssey. It was the second film of the new century to be based on Homer`s classic tale of a soldier trying, against almost insurmountable obstacles, to get home to his woman, the other being the Coen Brothers` wonderful O Brother, Where Art Thou?
It`s a gorgeous film to look at, filmed mainly on location in the Carolinas and Virginia. The South has rarely appeared so ravishing. But pretty pictures do not a good film make, so it`s lucky the late Anthony Minghella`s film benefits from some superb performances - as well as one or two dubious ones.
In the central roles of Inman (Odysseus/Noman in the Odyssey) and Ada (Penelope) are Jude law, who has seldom been this powerful or seemed this committed, and Nicole Kidman, who is a little too old in the part, but pulls out all the necessary emotional stops, finally convincing in a tough role.
Renee Zellweger is funny and discreetly scene-stealing in her Oscar-winning role as Ruby, who moves in with Ada and gets the farm back on its feet.
Other roles - many of them brief cameos - are taken by Donald Sutherland, lovely as Ada`s priest father, Philip Seymour Hoffman as a somewhat different kind of priest, Kathy Baker excellent as the women`s loyal friend, Giovanni Ribisi typically slippery as a householder with a family of sluttish daughters, and Ray Winstone effective in a meaty part as self-styled lawman Teague, but with a roaming American accent (he really shouldn`t be asked to play Americans, he simply can`t keep up the accent, sounding like a Cockney Confederate throughout).
There are two brilliant, totally natural portrayals: Brendan Gleeson as Ruby`s rascally father, an itinerant musician; and possibly the film`s best performance, by Natalie Portman as a widow left with a baby and little else, with whom Inman spends a (presumably) chaste night. She burns up the screen - far better in ten minutes than her overwrought lead in The Black Swan.
Eileen Atkins has a small part as a crone living in a hut in the woods, who tends to Inman`s wounds. Like Winstone, she should never be entrusted with any role which requires an American accent. Why on earth didn`t they get Americans to play such roles? (The great Dame is no better in this rsepect in The Hours, nor are Winstone`s laughably Sarf London tones any more convincing in The Departed.)
Jack White is surprisingly good as one of Gleeson`s musician buddies, and possible suitor to the resolutely unromantic Ruby, and even gets to sing and pluck on a mandolin.
The battle scenes are superbly handled - giving an impression of the horror and sheer bloodiness of a war in which more American people died than in all the other wars in which the US has taken part put together (unlikely but true).
On the whole, this is a moving and honourable film, especially if you`ve already been touched by Frazier`s deservedly prize-winning novel. Its length is justified, though there are longeurs, as well as one or two moments which might have been better thought-through. For example, the usually mesmerising Seymour Hoffman seems a touch under-rehearsed, his performance lacking a little in focus.
The music and songs are well chosen, and the two-disc set comes with plenty of fascinating extras.
An almost great film.
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on 29 April 2004
Cold Mountain is by all accounts a love story. I say STORY with strongemphasis; I have seen too many films which may have quite enough love butvery little by way of story. Cold Mountain is the name of the village thatthe film focuses upon with the basic plot of the film being the varioushappenings and goings on there during the American Civil War. A greatstrength of this film is its ability to set the scene and allow theaudience's mind to fully appreciate this beautifully constructed periodpiece. The characters are equally absorbing, and the audience findthemselves really caring for their welfare. Leading characters Inman (Law)and Ada (Kidman) are wonderfully acted, giving depth to the love storybetween the two. Secondary characters are not without their charm.Zellweger gives a wonderful performance in an unusual role, providingtouching comedy at regular intervals.
The soundtrack to the film adds greatly to its atmosphere, with bluegrassfeaturing prominently, and the songs showing a wonderfully resoluteoptimism to the sorrows of the civil war. As well as featuring in thesoundtrack, Jack White (of 'The White Stripes' fame) makes his actingdebut. Although his acting ability is not on par with Kidman or Law, hepossesses the ability to convey emotion through his music at an equal ifnot greater level.
As a whole this is one of the greatest films I have seen in a long time.It is beautifully acted, has an interesting and moving story and ismasterfully approached by director Minghella. A journey in film if everthere was one, this is definitely worth the trip to the cinema.
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A Story of tragedy of love and undying faith........set during the American civil-war.
'Ada Monroe' (Nicole Kidman) and her father move to the town of 'Cold Mountain' 400 miles from their hometown of
Charlestown.
'Ada's' father a revererend (Donald Sutherland) had been told the clean air of Cold Mountain would be of benefit to his
condition.
It is in Cold Mountain that 'Ada' meets young 'Inman' (Jude Law) there is an obvious attraction between the two, however
war is on the horizon before they really get to know each-other he joins the young-men of Cold Mountain as they march off
to war to fight the Yankee's believing it to be a great adventure....reality will be something very different.
'Ada' has promised to wait for 'Inman's' return she writes letters receiving no reply, in truth she doesn't know whether he is
alive or dead but has a blind faith that he will one day return.
The men of Cold Mountain serve with honour in battle, their numbers falling day by day, 'Inman' becomes injured in battle
during recovery he thinks of nothing else but of 'Ada' .....when recovering from his injuries he's had enough of this bloody war,
and deserts.
Meanwhile back in Cold Mountain after the death of her father 'Ada's' life is in a downward spiral, the farm becomes run-down,
she's hungry and penniless, by good fortune a stranger turns up on her property 'Ruby Thewes' (Renee Zellweger) an out-going sole who's lookig for work, not looking to get paid only seeking shelter and to be looked upon as an equal in return she'll help 'Ada' tend the land, 'Ada' will learn much from 'Ruby'
'Inman' has set about the long treck home to Cold Mountain to reunite with sweetheart 'Ada' ....it will be a long and perilous
journey all the time aware that Confederate-Patrols are out there hunting down deserters like himself, along the way he will
meet many strangers, some willing to help some willing to betray his trust.
When his journey is done will 'Ada' have waited all this time for his return or will she have given in to the advances of others
such as the treacherous 'Teague' (Ray Winstone)
A very intense and sometimes moving movie experience with a brutal battle sequence, and indeed many further violent
incidents both at Cold Mountain itself and indeed on 'Inman's' journey.
The film harbours many fine performances from it's star-studded cast-list.
(Been meaning to re-visit this film for many moons) - Well worth a re-visit or indeed a first viewing.
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I came to this as after thought having read an American civil war novel. Very glad I did. The story is of the futility of war and the corruption that comes with unchecked power, but through it all is very touching love story.
Nicole Kidman and Jude Law are fabulous, as is Renee Zellweger in a very unusual role. There are also nice cameos from Emily Deschannel (Bones) and Natalie Portman.
The movie starts with some fairly graphic war scenes that set the scene for the love story. As I said, the love story is very bittersweet, so be prepared!
Fabulous, highly recommended.
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on 25 May 2009
I really enjoyed this movie. It was slow to start as the previous review said but as far as being boring I totally disagree- each to their own. I am not a big fan of either Nicole Kidman or Jude Law and so had low expectations but I thought they were both excellent in their roles and this is why it was a pleasant surprise for me. I personally found the underlying theme of the two main characters shared destiny is what makes this film. Definately worth seeing if you like a medium paced epic.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 August 2006
I didn't expect much from this film - I saw it just because I was going to the movies with my mother and she wanted to see it. Well, I am really glad that I agreed. I was ready for the worst considering that I don't like Nicole Kidman (I find that she has a mean face) and I am not really a great fan of Renee Zellweiger. But I was pleasantly surprised and even more - carried away.

This is the kind of movie you do not see so much nowadays, the kind of stuff that Hollywood mostly stopped to make in the end of 60's. I almost had the impression that the ghosts of Bettie Davis ("Jezebel") and Vivien Leigh ("Gone with the wind") were watching Nicole Kidman with approval and a friendly smile - it must be the first movie in which I almost forgot that I can't stand her.

The story is REALLY GOOD. And sad and violent - sometimes almost unbearable. The acting is great, the visual aspect of the movie even better. The introductory sequence (battle of Crater) is amazing. Renee Zellweiger gives a great performance (the best in the whole movie). And then there is the INCREDIBLE Natalie Portman, in an episodic but very memorable role.

My advice: see it - if possible more than once. And then one more time. Enjoy!
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VINE VOICEon 13 July 2004
Ostensibly Charles Frazier's epic novel should have made a great film. It is, after all an event and character filled Odyssey through civil-war torn America and a love story to boot. Eminently adaptable, such elements should be meat and drink to a film-maker of Minghella's aptitude.
But, the Cold Mountain novel was so much more than the simple sum of its elemental parts. The complexity and eventually haunting aspect of the book comes from the characters of the two main figures, Inman and Ada. These two are at once introverted and of a time of innocence unkowable to most modern audiences. Their 'romance' was awkward in a way inconceivable to a generation raised on 'Friends' and its contemporary moral tone. When Inman goes to war he and Ada do not know if they are in love, their relationship is still half forged and shadowy. Throughout the rest of the story their memories of their brief time together are but a counter-balance to the awfulness of the present. It is only the sterile and hate-laden reality of the war that makes, even the most half-formed of loves seem potentially redemptive and a promise of better things.
Inman is a deserter. This is massaged in the film where he is given the excuse of Ida's letters calling him home. In the book he has no such overt 'excuse'. He deserts because he is sickened by killing and the knowledge that he has become an adept killer. His Odyssey is towards his own innocence of youth spent on the forested slopes of Cold Mountain. Along the way he struggles to shed his killer's mantle as the landscape he travels seems inhabited by those who would kill him or other innocents; he has little scope for mercy.
In the final scenes on Cold Mountain there is, of course, the redemptive element of a love that becomes fully forged, emotionally and physically between two people who have altered much. This changes Inman. His undoubted skills as a trained killer enable him to defeat the dark forces of the Home Guard and guarantee the home he has found anew. However, he finds within himself a new mercy towards his last adversary: leading inexorably to his own, sudden death.
At one level his death seems cruel and pointless: and is. But, it is arguable that his act of mercy, born of his new love for Ada and sense of home was the act of a man alive again - albeit briefly. His truer death had been his sickness of spirit and soul as a killing machine in a world gone mad. That his (living) genes continue in the child fathered during his brief laying beside Ada, and that Cold Mountain provides a place of security for his family becomes his final redemption and legacy. A fitting enough end to a brutal Odyssey.
I'm not sure I got much of the above from the film. Without these elements it's a love story that's not very sexy and an adventure film with a hero who looks fed-up. The battle set pieces are stunning, but they're not what the book was about. Some sub-plots work well; Zelwegger is good as a feral mountain girl who takes of the role of helping Ada survive. Law and Kidman look very pretty and Nicole's nails remain beautifully manicured throughout. But, both really fail to bring any depth to characters whose essentials are well beneath the surface. Minghella has given us a film that is lavish and beautifully photographed but is ultimately like a piece of classical music played with all the wrong emphases of tone.
Maybe, we should expect no more: compex books tend to make disappointing films. Thus, Captain Corelli's Mandolin becomes a travel brochure... And yet, it can be done. Wildly unfashionable though it now may be, Gone With the Wind was a great film that faithfully recreated the character, tone and essence of a huge (albeit melodramatic) best seller. That was about the Civil War too. Ah, they don't make 'em like they used to.
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on 4 July 2010
For a long time, my favorite film has been Anthony Minghella's 'The English Patient', so I thought I'd better check out some of his other films and see if they were in the same league. And, without any reservations, I can say they are. 'Cold Mountain' is an instant classic.

Although the film is long, I never once thought about the time because the narrative was so strong and I was totally wrapped up in the struggles of the characters. Anthony Minghella used to plan his films extensively, and you can tell that so much care went into every line, every shot and every cinematic technique. The featured performances from Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger are spellbinding as are the contributions from the rest of the acting ensemble. Special mention must go to the music. Like 'The English Patient', there is a lovely mixture of original score (written by the great Gabriel Yared) and period pieces such as American country songs.

As with all the Minghella films I've seen, there is a lot of sadness in the story but I find 'Cold Mountain' to very uplifting and life-affirming. It's just such a shame to think there will never be another film by this great director. He was truly a genius!
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on 18 October 2009
This an amazing film, purely because of Nicole and Renee, Nicole accent is superb, an aussie doing south american but she couldnt have done it any better, Renne is perfect i found myself hysterically laughing at some of the things she came out with. Jude law was fantastic and featured an all star cast featuring: Phillip seymor Hoffman and lots more.

Its a story about love and war and may i say the best of all time.

The battle scenes are rather graphic and if you are squeamish then you may want a pillow, but they are so fantastic and believable i couldn't look away.

I am a Nicole fanatic and this is one her best movies, There are many scenes or cruelty and lots and lots of nudity, sex scenes and bare breasted women but thats what makes it so believable because it seems as though theres no boundries.

It brings together love and war and it so fantastically directed it makes you scream at the TV and laugh and cry.

BEWARE: you may need some tissues!!

Overall this deserves the best rating, its absoloutley fantastic and both Nicole and renee really steal the show!

Would highly recommend in my opinion NO faults absoloutley perfectect.
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on 21 September 2005
I missed this film at the cinema but since I work in a library I was able to rent it for free! I knew it was going to be good with the likes of Kidman and Zellweger but I was genuinely impressed with the film on almost every level. First of all it looks amazing with not only beautiful scenery but gruesomely realistic battle scenes. The director has dealt sensitively with some of the more horrific moments, such as the rape of Natalie Portman's character and the murder of Sally's husband and children, effectively conveying the absolute lawlessness and lack of humanity in the Civil War era. Certainly not a way to learn about the war in detail and the story isn't based on real events but you really get the feeling it could have happened. For me the star of the show was Renée Zellweger who created a fully-rounded character who was equally strong and vulnerable and offered humour in what is essentially a bleak but brilliant film.
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