Cold Mountain (2003)
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Review Date: December 17, 2003
Director: Anthony Minghella
Writer: Anthony Minghella
Producers: Sydney Pollack, Albert Berger
Nicole Kidman
Jude Law
Renee Zellweger
It's 1864 and the civil war is on. A local guy enlists to fight for the south, but not before making googly-eyes with a local hottie who likes wearing long skirts and bonnets (are you as turned on as I am?) The two kiss for the first time a minute before he's off to war, but she swears that she'll wait for him. As time passes, neither is aware of the other's progress, but both trudge forward with hope. Will they ever meet again? Will the hottie give herself up to another? Will the soldier "get oral" from another woman while making his way back home? It's a cold mountain, folks...these people need to pass their time somehow...
I've never seen THE ENGLISH PATIENT. Many have told me that this is a good thing. Others have told me that I'm missing out on one of our time's premiere "love stories". Well, today was my chance to be redeemed, with the former film's director, Anthony Minghella, returning to his forte with yet another lavish, romantic epic called COLD MOUNTAIN. Was I looking forward to this screening? Yeah, about as much as I was my dental appointment next week. That said, I actually quite enjoyed the film, was duly impressed by most everyone in the cast, fell in love with its brilliant photography and appreciated its old-fashioned love story, which despite ending on a somewhat punch-less note, still made an impact. I was dreading this picture mostly because its initial teaser trailer made it look like a major bore with voice-overs, lots of drab coloring, lots of depressed people and lots of war. Fortunately, the film wasn't like that at all, and once passed its impressive opening war sequence, delved directly into the lives of the characters, all of whom were respectively engaging. With two and a half hours to fill, there were tiny lulls here and there, but overall, time was not a factor. The initial scenes between Kidman and Law's characters were extremely pivotal to that process, since you really needed to feel the chemistry and "spark" between them, so that you would be immediately invested in their love affair. I felt the heat between the actors, both of whom were also solid in the film and obviously, gorgeous to boot. Nicole...call me, I have something to ask you involving marriage, myself and you.

The picture looked dang pretty as well, with the opening battle sequences really giving you a true sense of the blood and guts spilled during the war, while the smaller town scenes relayed the beauty of the home/family for which they were all fighting. The film's also packed with a number of engaging sequences, as Law's character tries to make it back home but keeps running into interesting characters, many of whom are name actors like Natalie Portman, the great Philip Seymour Hoffman, Giovanni Ribisi, etc... Even the lead singer of the White Stripes shows up for an important role. All of those actors were great in their parts, but for my money, it was Renee Zellweger's presence in this film that took it to that extra level. Things were fine and dandy with Law and Kidman playing figurative footsies under the table to that point, but it wasn't until Zellweger's spunky character hit the screen that things really got into a groove. It's important to note that the film doesn't just focus on the lead relationship, but also provides us with a number of smaller, interesting stories as well (the good neighbors were one of the best developed- with Kathy Baker as the standout) On the downside, I ultimately didn't get as emotionally wrenched by this film as I'd hoped, with its final 30 minutes feeling a tad underwhelming. Other nitpicks include the local "bad guys" feeling a little too one-dimensional (especially the albino looking guy-c'mon dude, this ain't a David Lynch movie), the use of voice-over taking me "out" of the film every now and again, and some of the dialogue, feeling a little hokey (the line that Zellweger delivers about the "weather" and "standing under the rain" is embarrassing)

In the end, the film delivers a potent love story of two people holding on to hope through their desire to be with one another and their continuing belief that the other is doing the same. It also provides us with a closer look at the behavior of individuals during wartime. Sometimes it's the nice lady with the child that turns out to be your worst enemy...not the guy in the soldier's uniform. Oh, and did I mention the quickie shots of both Kidman and Law's respective bottoms? No. Well, I did now. Enjoy.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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