The US Civil War, 1864: injured confederate soldier Inman (Jude Law), sickened by the blood-and-gore senselessness of battle, escapes from military hospital and heads home for Cold Mountain, North Carolina, and his waiting sweetheart Ada (Nicole Kidman). Back on the farm, Southern-belle Ada proves ill-equipped for the outdoors life until a concerned neighbour organises help in the form of no-nonsense Ruby (Renee Zellweger), who immediately starts putting things in order. But as Inman continues his hazardous progress, Ada and Ruby face dangers of their ownLucas Black appears (briefly) in Cold Mountain

Adapted by Minghella from Charles Frazier’s bestselling novel, Cold Mountain works best as a sumptuous showcase for a gallery of strong performances. The central romantic couple are engaging, despite spending the vast majority of the movie far apart; Zellweger injects much-needed energy and humour; and the supporting cast boasts entertainingly vivid (if too-brief) turns from the reliable likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Eileen Atkins. But the many incidental pleasures of this blatantly Oscar-baiting production are undercut by Minghella’s over-careful, old-fashioned direction, and the limitations of his predictable screenplay. Necessarily episodic as a drama, it tends to reduce complex political, historical and social situations to the simplistic level of goodies-vs-baddies.

23rd December, 2003
(seen 22nd December : UCI Filmworks, MetroCentre, Gateshead)

USA 2003 : Anthony MINGHELLA : 152(-155) mins

further reading: Oh, Carolina!, Neil’s essay on Cold Mountain