12 July 2011 | Spikeopath
I imagine God is weary of being called down on both sides of an argument.
Cold Mountain is directed by Anthony Minghella who also adapts to screenplay from Charles Frazier's novel of the same name. It stars Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, Eileen Atkins, Kathy Baker, Brendan Gleeson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ray Winstone and Natalie Portman.Music is scored by Gabriel Yared and cinematography by John Seale. Plot finds Law as W.P. Inman, a wounded deserter from the Confederate army who is trying to make his way back to North Carolina to rekindle a fledgling romance with Ada Monroe (Kidman).
This is Minghella's world and the American Civil War movie gets a double shot in the arm as Cold Mountain not only deals in the home front, but also in the perilous life of the soldier. Add into the mix a fire cracker of an opening, a central romance and an array of expertly drawn characters, and it's safe to say that Minghella's film is not only epic in production, but also in story telling. In essence the film is about love, friendships and learning to cope under the most trying of circumstances, but the director doesn't paint it with a sentimental brush. As the three strands of the narrative play out, tone is often gritty, intense, sorrowful even, with Minghella cribbing from the Anthony Mann Western book by having the stunning landscapes form part of the characters emotional world.
Come back to me, come back to me
Story is strong, even if the key romance is soft; since it's told mostly in flash backs, but those flash backs are threaded into the main seam of Ada's life on the home front and Inman's perilous odyssey. She, befriended by hard working, dirty handed, Ruby Thewes (Zellewegger excellent); who also provides the only moments of levity within, he, meeting up with a number of interesting characters, both good and bad. This of course makes the film episodic, but in this instance it's a good thing, mainly because characters are so utterly compelling. Hoffman as a less than honourable priest and Portman as a young woman out in a wood cabin, alone with her sick baby, they stand out. But there's also the Home Guard attached enforcers led by blood thirsty Teague (Winstone) and a potent thread involving Ruby's fiddle playing father, Stobrod (Gleeson as usual a considerable screen presence).
On the technical front it's hard to find fault, it's a tip top production. Romania's mountains, rolling hills and forests form the backdrop to most of the action, with John Seale's Academy Award nominated photography neatly passing for a rugged North Carolina. While the costumes, set design and Yared's score also add impetus to the feel of the time. There's some minor itches, such as fluctuating accents and the delicacy of the romance lacking the passion to drive such a journey by Inman on, but they are not flaws. Such is the strength of Minghella's story telling ability, Cold Mountain still comes out as great cinema. A film that can stay in your mind for days after viewing it. Bleak yet subtle, savage yet tender, a different sort of Civil war movie. Amen to that. 9/10