Film-Forward Review: [COLD MOUNTAIN]

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Nicole Kidman as Ada (Photo: Phil Bray/Miramax)

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Directed by: Anthony Minghella.
Produced by: Albert Berger, Sydney Pollack & Ron Yerxa.
Written by: Anthony Minghella, based on the novel by Charles Frazier.
Director of Photography: John Seale.
Edited by: Walter Murch.
Music by: Gabriel Yared.
Released by: Miramax.
Country of Origin: USA. 155 min. Rated: R.
With: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger.
DVD Features: Commentary by writer/director Anthony Minghella & editor Walter Murch. Climbing Cold Mountain documentary. Making-of special "A Journey to Cold Mountain". "Words & Music of Cold Mountain". Deleted scenes. Sacred harp history. Storyboard comparisons.

A brutal depiction of survival and the horrors of war, the 1997 bestseller and National Book Award-winning novel is faithfully brought to the screen. In an antebellum North Carolina town, a quiet and eligible carpenter, Inman (Law), falls in love at first sight with the refined and unmarried preacher's daughter, Ada (Kidman). Their courtship is cut short by the Civil War, and while Inman goes off to war Ada tries to manage the farm once her father (Donald Sutherland) dies. Keeping her home fire burning during wartime is difficult until a drifter, Ruby (Zellweger), comes along to save the farm. With her feisty cornpone manner, she also offers a good share of welcomed comic relief. Both women must protect their land from the ravenous and pillaging Home Guard, which is gaining control of Cold Mountain. Meanwhile, war-weary and wounded Inman deserts the army, and the film follows his episodic, and often engrossing, odyssey back to his sweetheart.

Law makes a fine Inman and seems a much better choice than originally-cast Tom Cruise. But the ubiquitous Kidman suffers from more scowling and pouting than Scarlett O'Hara. Otherwise, she does an admirable job with the role, genteel Southern accent and all. Beside Zellweger, the most memorable performances are the cameos that pepper the film: Natalie Portman as a war widow, Kathy Baker as Ada's kind neighbor, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, way over the top as a wayward preacher. This handsomely made wartime romance should appeal to fans of The English Patient (also by director Minghella).
David Nudo, The New York Times, Book Advertising Manager

January 13, 2004

DVD Extras: The features are quite comprehensive and donít disappointment. Climbing Cold Mountain covers the entire duration of the production, from scouting to publicity, and features interviews taken during the filming without the benefit of hindsight. This makes for an interesting perspective, allowing the viewer to understand the construction of the film rather than just offering recollections of the crew after the production. (The cast and crew battled weather and language barriers on location in Romania during a complicated filming schedule spanning over 150 days.) The commentary is worthwhile, but not necessary with the documentaries included. Lisette Johnson
July 28, 2004



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