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Cold Mountain

August 25, 2010

Cold Mountain (2003)
Director: Anthony Minghella
Actors: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger

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Synopsis: Inman (Jude Law) flees the US Civil War to return home to his sweetheart, Ada (Nicole Kidman).

Review: A handsome and competently told tale it may be, but Cold Mountain is handicapped by its stifling reverence for the Civil War subject matter and Charles Frazier’s source novel. Anthony Minghella’s tendency to adopt a tasteful, Academy-friendly working mode (he only casts bankable A-list actors and employs industry-famed technicians such as director of photography John Seale and editor Walter Murch) betrays the film’s true intentions (commercial), when a braver, more singular approach would have paid more dividends.

Dramatically the film is only moderately successful, and particularly after a second viewing, any narrative meat seems more down to the original source material than through any especial storytelling brio from Minghella. The casting is one of the major problems: Jude Law never manages to convey his character’s inner turmoil beneath an earnest surface performance, and Nicole Kidman – looking more like she stepped out of a Chanel advert than living an attritional life in 1864 – reminds me once again what an unexciting and ungenerous actor she has become. Populating the film with too many stars in cameo roles mars the film’s narrative integrity, and the amount of non-Southerners involved in the production is an error too. All the lead actors – Law, Kidman, Ray Winstone and even Renee Zellweger (in an embarrassingly glib character turn) – seem trapped behind the technicalities of their southern accents. (February 2006)

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