Cold Mountain (2003)
(Release Date: December 25, 2003)

A epic, if Pondorous, Civil War Romance!

J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

Director Anthony Minghella's adaptation of Charles Frazier's novel Cold Mountain is one of those "Must See" movies that really pays off... and then makes you look back and question what you've just watched. By no means is this a bad film, however, it is overlong and daunting in the viewing, and the ultimate payoff brings less of a tear to the eye than a question to the mind. This is a wonderfully acted and expansively beautiful film, however, and it leaves most of its poorer qualities in the dust, though repeated viewings can have a tendency to unearth the roughs in the diamond.

Make an Evening of it... if you know what I mean:

Nicole Kidman's Ada Monroe is a none-too-worldly preacher's daughter, new to the town of Cold Mountain, North Carolina. There, she inexplicably falls in deep, deep love with the almost silent Inman (Jude Law) just as the Civil War begins. Their love affair is short lived, however, because Inman's Draft Card is called up forth with, and he's sent straight into the hell of battle as the Earth quite literally shatters beneath him.

But as the Injured Inman journeys home to meet his briefly beloved Ada is bombarded with more misfortune than six guys named Job, and Inman is faced with the trials and tribulations of the pre-Reconstruction South, more dangers than a date with the Mayor's Daughter and more Cameo appearances than Woody Allen's Celebrity! You won't believe the number of Celebrities who appear on screen in this movie just long enough to nudge their agent into action. But here, check it out, everyone from Donald Sutherland to Philip Seymour Hoffman to Giovanni Ribisi to Ethan Suplee to Jena Malone to Lucas Black to Melora Walters to Cillian Murphy to Taryn Manning to Natalie Portman shows up for a smile, a wave, or a murder!

As I said, the Homestead's no prize, either, and if not for the kindness of RenÚe Zellweger's Ruby Thewes and Kathy Baker's Sally Swanger, Ada shorely wood'uv Perished! Especially with the sadistic Rebel Home Guard mucking everything up.

The story is engrossing and never dull, and the acting, from a largely foreign cast playing American Southerners, is excellent, without exception. The romance (and corresponding Sex Scene) is also a thumbs up for those appreciating the more chivalrous and idealistic Romance. But for those of us living in the real world, it's hard to fathom exactly what sparked this romance aside from looks alone and the possibility of this being "Written in the Stars"!

Idealism seems to be the order of the day in the creation of Inman and Ada all around. Their purity shines through almost unrealistically as the most honorable and heroic moments of the story are cornered by them. It's a joy to see though, as long as you leave your pick and shovel behind and don't dig too deeply into the Platonistic Archetypes that these two boil down to.

This isn't the wasted epic of so many of the Braveheart clones out there by any means, but it's also not quite the gritty and realistic history book that it could be. Would I change anything? Probably not... hell we need some selfless and pure heroes who abstain from temptation, desert only the unjust armies of the world and risk life and limb for strangers amid impossible and nearly caricatured evil. Not everyone will quite buy the pure black and white and clear as crystal storytelling here, but the acting, scenery and directing will still be saluted!

Four Stars out of Five for Cold Mountain, the simple and ideal Romance set against a complex and malignant war. This movie works, and it's worth the time to enjoy it, even though it's not quite Gone with the Wind! On the other hand, we never got to see Vivien Leigh naked! Sorry... you're never too old to notice Nicole! If you have the time, take the time, and tell me what you think of it, and until then, I'll see you in the next reel!

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Cold Mountain (2003) Reviewed by J.C. Mašek III who is solely responsible for his own views and for the fact that he's never had a Stars N' Bars flag on his car! Ever.
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Let's see... Malice, Eyes Wide Shut, Dead Calm... I'm getting to know Nicole Kidman's goodies quite well!

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