Cold Mountain (2003)
Directed by Anthony Minghella
Based on the book by Charles Frazier
Screenplay by Anthony Minghella
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Renée Zellweger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ray Winstone, Natalie Portman, Giovanni Ribisi
When the Civil War breaks out, the people of Cold Mountain soon see the young men head off to fight for the Confederacy. This includes Inman (Law) who has begun to fall for the daughter of the preacher, Ada Monroe (Kidman). Now he holds onto her photo and her promise as he immerses himself in the horrors of war. After deserting, Inman begins the journey back to Ada and Cold Mountain. Meanwhile, Cold Mountain has fallen under the cloud of war and the terrorizing efforts of the Home Guard. Led by Teague (Winstone), this group searches out deserters and forces their will on everyone in the community. Ada and her new housemate (Zellweger) are soon forced to take a stand against these evil men. As Inman continues to search for a way home, he’s needed more than ever to save Ada and the other innocent people in Cold Mountain.
This film was taken from the novel Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (Climbing Cold Mountain). Director Anthony Minghella (The Talented Mr. Ripley) took on the story, writing the screenplay and directing the film. The movie stars a huge cast of talented actors, starting with Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy) and Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows). The film also features Renée Zellweger (Chicago), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Moneyball), Ray Winstone (The Proposition), Natalie Portman (Thor: The Dark World), Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy), and Giovanni Ribisi (Ted). As both a commercial and critical success, the film earned a number of awards including seven Oscar nominations. The film was nominated for Best Leading Actor (Law), and Best Supporting Actress (Zellweger). Renée Zellweger took home the Oscar, the only win for this film. In addition to these nominations, the film was also nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Original Score. The other two nominations came for Best Original Song. These nominations came for the songs, Scarlet Tide and You Will Be My Ain True Love.
The movie works on the idea that more is lost in war than can be measured on the battlefield. This is nicely communicated through the writing done by Anthony Minghella. The story is epic in scale and seems to draw out the worst of the characters. Thankfully, this story also seeks to find the redemptive qualities in some of the characters. This allows the story to also look at the things worth saving during a time of war and loss. The story doesn’t flinch from accepting the pain and suffering of the characters. Additionally, the movie doesn’t try to find anything noble about the death and destruction. The weakness of this story comes when the story loses focus. Throughout the film there are moments that seem to stray a bit further from the main story than necessary. This isn’t anything awful, but it does slow the pace of the movie. Overall, this is a nicely written screenplay.
The acting in this one is pretty good also. Nicole Kidman and Jude Law do a nice job leading the way with this one. Between the two of them there are a lot of emotional moments that could have made or broken this movie. More often than not the stars succeeded in making these moments work. Renée Zellweger does an excellent job with her role in this one. She was definitely deserving of her Oscar after putting together a heartfelt performance that could have easily come off as corny or comical. Small, but wonderful performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Giovanni Ribisi, Natalie Portman, and Charlie Hunnam make this movie wonderful to watch. Finally, the film would’ve suffered without a good villain. Ray Winstone fills that role with a powerful performance that is both disturbing and deep. The actors did a good job in this war epic.
The visuals and the music cannot be ignored in this one. The score, as well as two original songs, earned Oscar nominations. The music seems to accent the drama and emotion nicely. From the love scenes to the battlefield, the score is a powerful addition to the movie. The score also underlines the impressive visuals in this movie. The cinematography is beautifully done and captures the many different scenes nicely. The locations chosen to film this movie were nicely chosen as well. The costuming, set design, and visual effects all come together nicely. Overall, this movie does an excellent job from every aspect of the visuals.
This is a good movie that will appeal to fans of war films or epic drama. I would also recommend this to fans of any of the actors mentioned above. The pace can be slow at times, but this is also due to the gritty emotional content in the movie. The violence is intense and the emotions run high throughout this one, so it might not be for everyone. I give this one 4.3 out of 5 stars.