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Movie Info


R for violence, nudity and sexuality


Drama, Romance


Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jena Malone, Robin Mullins, Natalie Portman, Giovanni Ribisi, Donald Sutherland


Anthony Minghella


Miramax Films

Cold Mountain Official Web Site


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Cold Mountain

By Holly McClure
Guest Reviewer Warning: This movie contains sexually explicit material.

Plot: Ada (Nicole Kidman) is a preachers daughter in a small North Carolina town, who falls in love with a shy but willing, Inman (Jude Law). As their romance begins to blossom so does the Civil War and soon all confederate men are asked to join the cause. With only a kiss to remember each other and a book with a photo of Ada, Inman heads for war. Immediately he is embroiled in one of the darkest battles in Civil War history and after a serious injury, vows to return to the woman he loves. As the wounded soldier makes his way across the war-ravaged south, he faces incredible trials and tribulations; bounty hunters, Yankee soldiers, a man and a group of twisted women drug Inman and his traveling companion then sexually try to assault the two and sell them back to the Confederate army. As Inman treks across the land he is helped by unexpected friends (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman) along the way. Meanwhile, Ada suffers the loss of her father and sees the farm deteriorate because she lacks practical skills to manage it. As things get to a drastic state for Ada, along comes a mountain woman named Ruby (Renee Zellweger) who lends her skills for farming and her friendship and bravery to Ada. As the women fend for themselves and fight off a local sheriff who wants to marry Ada, Inman steadily makes his way back home, dreaming of the moment he can reunite with his true love.

Good: I appreciated the magnificent scope of what it took to make this movie. Director Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) has recreated a visually stunning movie to watch, and even though early on, some teased Minghella about this being his “Heaven’s Gate,” in the end, this is a beautiful looking movie with gorgeous scenery, Civil War battle scenes that are unique and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, an amazing score with haunting and original songs and several interesting characters and relationships. Ada and Ruby are the most fun to watch, but there are others; the strolling musicians (that include Ruby’s estranged father), next door neighbors and all of the characters Inman meets along his journey -- all make for an interesting and compelling story, if not a satisfying one. Despite all of the Oscar buzz and accolades this movie is getting, I have mixed emotions about this epic adaptation based on the 1997 Charles Frazier novel. Filmed in Romania, the story takes us back to a nineteenth century America that spans from gorgeous mountains and a small town to amazing Civil War scenes that are violent and eccentrically executed because of the unusual battle that took place in 1864. Inman’s perilous journey is filled with interesting performances by Hoffman, Ribisi and Portman but throughout his journey there is always a heavy creepy and depressing mood that accompanies him. Law is an able leading man and is visually intriguing to watch. The love scene between the self-married couple is intimate and full of chemistry as this scene represents the union both have dreamed about. Kidman’s character goes through the biggest metamorphous. In the end, she’s convincing as an admirable and self sufficient woman. But it’s the friendship between Ada and the hick-sounding, loudmouthed Zellweger that provide most of the humor and entertainment for the story. The women’s relationship lends warmth, charm and true grit to a story that heavily relies on a romance that takes place between the two star-crossed lovers who never see each other throughout the entire story. For all of the epic aspects that work in this film, there’s still something that left me a little cold when it was over.

Bad: Warning: The following contains information that may spoil the plot for some readers.

This is clearly an adult story with scenes from a specific civil war battle that was particularly bloody and frightening. Body parts are shown blown off, men are stabbed with bayonets, others are shot or bludgeoned, in other words, it’s war in its most brutal form as it realistically was back then. Language and crude dialogue are woven into a portrayal of a rough way of life. A couple of sexual situations take place that are graphic in nature. One is because Inman and a friend are drugged by women who scheme to turn them in for reward money. We see full nudity of several women and partial nudity of the man. Another situation takes place between Inman and Ada when they reunite for their wedding night. We see both characters nude and in intimate sexual positions. Another brief scene shows Inman laying beside a woman (both fully clothed) but nothing sexual takes place. Perhaps the biggest disappointment to the story and quite possibly the reason the movie is leaving some feeling cold, is the lack of screen time our two stars spend together. After wading through a long movie filled with situations and people who try to keep our lovers apart, it is extremely frustrating to finally see the two together only for one night of wedded bliss. For those who have read the New York Times best seller - you already know what happens to Inman. But for those who aren’t familiar with the story, the ending will probably frustrate, disappoint and almost irritate you.

Bottom Line: The one thing that would have made this movie more compelling and perhaps the one thing that would probably have made it a bigger box-office success than it’s going to be - would have been for the two lovers to wind up together. Whether artsy, independent Hollywood filmmakers want to admit it or not - the human nature of audiences is to root for the good guys and cheer for star-crossed lovers. When you have a movie about two people who are kept from each other through thick and thin and the audience never sees them together until the very end - the result better be a happy ending that will give the audience something to cheer about and create a positive buzz about the movie. I have a feeling that after the word gets out about “Cold Mountain” and it's depressing ending, some may end up giving it a cold reception at the box office. For those who don't mind the less-than-happy-ever-after-ending, this is a fascinating study in human behavior and the power of what love between two people who hardly knew each other, can do.

Visit Holly McClure's website at

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