Directed by Anthony Minghella.
Written by Anthony Minghella. Based on the book by Charles
Starring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 12/30/03
It’s been a long year. Lot of movies.
DAMNED lot of movies. I thought it best to end the year with a
movie that would have a surefire shot at the Oscar, so “Cold
Mountain” was the perfect choice...on paper.
Once the film begins, though, you realize
that “Cold Mountain” is such a...well, film that it takes someone
lost in its luster to be able to put up with some of its horseshit
melodrama. A purported love story, the Civil War plot follows a
Southerner named Inman (Jude Law) as he makes his quest from
Petersburg, Virginia to Cold Mountain, North Carolina to see a woman
named Ada (Nicole Kidman). You see, Inman is a soldier for the
South, but after Petersburg, he deserts his fellow men because the
picture he carries around of Ada makes him yearn for the peace and
JEEZ, THIS SOUNDS LIKE DOGSHIT!
Well, I can’t really say that. Sure, I
didn’t read the book, but I always enjoy movie caricatures of “the
wise woman” (Yoda was not available, so in “Cold Mountain” it’s a
crazy woman that kills goats and somehow nurses a dying Inman back
to life), “the dirty sheriff” (Ron Winstone, who starred in
Beast”, perfect), and “the spunky sidekick” (Renee Zellweger as
Ruby, who will assuredly garner an Oscar nomination for this work
even if I think she shouldn’t; I feel like I say that every year,
and I actually like her as an actress). And, I like to turn the
brain off at the movies sometimes, and for that, “Cold Mountain” is
very kind. When Ada’s father (Donald Sutherland) dies off early in
the film, I was laughing so hard I was embarrassing the old woman
sitting two seats over. Seriously, he is sitting outside in a
chair, it’s starting to rain, and his line was so “I’ll be dead in
the next frame” I really was laughing out loud.
See, I don’t do well with spoken dialogue
that is just too romantic or poignant. Many of Zellweger’s lines
come off like that once she is introduced 45 minutes into the film.
During one dramatic sequence, a woman is tied to her fence after
witnessing a brutal murder, and Ruby uttered something so
script-perfect, I shared the same stunned look that Ada did in the
scene. Question to anyone that has read the book: was Ruby that
over-the-top in the book? She becomes almost unfathomably annoying
by the time the film is over. Also, one character looks at Ada—played
by the same Kidman that has weighed 110 pounds in ALL of her
films—mid-picture and says something to the effect of
“Oh, come here woman, you look like you
haven’t eaten in days!”
and I almost stood up and said “It’s NICOLE
FUCKING KIDMAN, PEOPLE!” I didn’t remember her looking plump in the
early-going, and then we get someone claiming she looked thinner???
On the flipside of all of this, director
Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient”) delivers a film that is
incredibly beautiful to look at, even though the sex scene here is
light petting at best. The film, shot all over Virginia, North
Carolina and South Carolina, has great-looking work in rain, in
snow, during the day and naturally at night. The opening battle
sequence is tough to watch (camera-wise) but the tension is there;
supporting work by Winstone, Natalie Portman, Giovanni Ribisi and
many others is very solid. It’s the kind of film—a sweeping
romantic war epic with big stars—that appeals to the 40+ set...which
almost assures that it will be nominated for Best Picture in a
“Seabiscuit”, this is the kind of
film that folks in the younger set won’t love, but it will be a big
winner come Oscar time.
postscript, 1/04: Although I
thought that only a small portion of "Cold Mountain" was shot in
Romania, it turns out that a shitload of it was shot over there,
with only some coverage shots being done in the US. Lesson:
don't believe the credits, EVER.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard