on January 31, 2004
"Cold Mountains", one of the best films of the year (it's a crime it wasn't nominated for Best Picture), is beautifully crafted, stirring, poetic tale of love, loss, and the will to survive. Directed and adapted to the screen by the wonderful Anthony Minghella and boasting a stunning cast of Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Giovanni Ribisi, Jack White, Brendan Gleeson, and Donald Sutherland, this film is truly a force to be reckoned with.
"Cold Mountain" tells the story of Inman (Law), a carpenter working in Cold Mountain, North Carolina in 1861 when the alluring, elegant, and well-educated Ada (Kidman) and her father, Reverend Monroe (Sutherland), move to the Blue Mountains from the city. Inman and Ada, in true Hollywood fashion, are instantly taken by each other and engage in restrained flirtation, Ada's preacher father and their different social classes being the bulwark from romance. Soon the Civil War begins and the entire young male population of Cold Mountain departs in eager anticipation of glorious battle. Inman and Ada engage in one fleeting, hungry kiss before he rushes off to join the departing procession.
During battle, Inman is wounded and, after reading Ada's numerous earnest letters imploring him to return to her, deserts the Confederate army and embarks upon an Odyssey-like journey back home to his true love. Meanwhile, Ada's father has died, leaving her helpless and alone on their 300 acre farm. Soon Ruby (Zellweger) arrives and offers Ada her services in exchange for food and shelter. Realizing that she simply cannot manage on her own, Ada agrees. The rest of this spellbinding film flashes back and forth between Ada, being "all that keeps Inman from sliding into some dark place" and Inman, being Ada's "last thread of courage". Though these two souls barely know each other, they both remarkably become the single thing in each others world worth living for, worth fighting for.
When boiled down to it, "Cold Mountain" is simply a beautiful testament of the human soul's fierce will to survive and, as corny as it sounds, the power of love. If it weren't for their love, neither Ada nor Inman would have found the will and courage to survive after their lives had been shattered by the brutalities of war.
The seamlessly intertwined music plays such a large emotional role in this film. From Gabriel Yard's haunting score to Alison Krauss' tender songs, the music in this films helps to create an absorbing atmosphere that sucks you right into the Civil War. In addition, John Seale's breathtaking cinematography complete with sweeping views of the snow-encrusted Blue Mountains makes this a film you simply must see on the big screen.
This has been a very difficult review for me to write. Upon first seeing "Cold Mountain", I was pleased with the film, but definitely not as taken with it as I soon came to be. That all changed in the weeks following. I simply cannot get this film out of my head. The hope, the sacrifices, the pain, the loss, the love. It really sticks with you. It's hard to put my feelings into words and I sincerely hope that this review has given you the incentive to go see this film, and by doing so, embark upon an unforgettable journey.