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Cold Mountain
poster from Cold Mountain 8 out of 108 out of 108 out of 108 out of 108 out of 10
Rated: R
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Current Voter Rating: 7.987 (231 votes)
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Cold Mountain tells the story of what one Confederate Soldier (Jude Law) is willing to go through to get back to the woman he loves (Nicole Kidman). This movie is shocking, touching, and overwhelmingly depressing. It is also somewhat of a girly "chick flick" although I was still able to enjoy it, if one can enjoy seeing a country torn by war, death, and destruction.

The movie is written and directed by Anthony Minghella who did the same for The English Patient. And having seen this earlier film, I can see many parallels, for he definitely follows the same sort of pattern in both movies. For instance, both films tell a love story amidst the backdrop of war. And in both the main characters are more interested in love than they are in war. Both movies seem to make a statement about war (that it is hell, obviously) as they highlight the lost lives and, more graphically, the lives ruined and corrupted by the outbreak of war. Another interesting observation is that both feature one person reading literary classics, poetry, or letters to another as they lie in bed. In The English Patient, it was Hana (Juliette Binoche) reading to a disfigured Count Laszlo de Almásy (Ralph Fiennes). In Cold Mountain, it is a volunteer reading a letter to an injured Inman (Law), or Ada (Kidman) reading Wuthering Heights to Ruby (Renée Zellweger).

picture from Cold Mountain

picture from Cold Mountain picture from Cold Mountain In addition, this movie, not unlike The English Patient, will be going after a lot of awards. The talk is that Nicole Kidman may wind up winning the Oscar for her performance, but I was personally more impressed with the supporting cast: (Renée Zellweger, Kathy Baker, and Natalie Portman). Zellweger (left) plays Ruby, a homely girl used to being on her own and working the farm. She contrasts perfectly with Kidman's Ada, who in her words hasn't done anything in her life which has "produced a result." Zellweger's accent is thick and her appearance on-screen starts with a bang when she rips the head off a rooster which has been pestering Ada. Kathy Baker is great as their neighbor, Sally. She begins as the kind, outspoken woman who looks out for Ada and winds up being a shy mute as the result of a horrible tragedy which we witness in all too graphic detail. Finally, I was really blown away by Natalie Portman's role as Sara (right), a woman living on her own and caring for a sick baby in a one-room house with nothing but some corn, a rifle, and a hog. She has only a brief appearance in the film, but in that span we see her cautious caring for Inman which begins to turn to bold attraction only to give way to pitiful weeping when he professes his love for someone else. Her character provides perhaps the film's most shocking moment when she shoots a Union Soldier dead after having been mercifully let go by Inman, not to spoil it or anything. :) In any case, hers is simply one of the best performances I've ever seen.

However, what I'll always remember about this movie isn't the love story, or the brilliant acting, or even the statements about war. What I'm taking away from the film is the way in which these people lived and survived in the hills of the deep South. Seeing Kidman at her wit's end living in a large house and not knowing how to survive on her own makes me wonder if I'd do any better in similar circumstances. Later we see how "the goat lady" was able to get along just fine with a small house, barely big enough to fit a bed, and a few goats which she used for "milk, cheese, love, and when the time comes, meat." And Portman's character, raising a baby on her own was reduced to tears as she pleaded for her hog and her life, for as she stated, "Please don't take my hog! If you do we won't survive the winter." What that must have been like I couldn't even pretend to know with several grocery stores within a 5 minute drive.

Unfortunately, this movie has other scenes which will be memorable as well, but not for their beauty or their realism but for their shock value. It seems that Hollywood must always set out to horrify audiences with some new brand of torture or cruelty or explicit sex scene for the sake of originality. This movie sure has its share. We see the horrors of war in the film's opening scenes, which get us to feel sorry for both sides of the war. Later, we see a woman tortured until her hiding children are compelled to show themselves only so that they can be shot down as deserters. We see a young girl rowing two people across a lake shot dead with absolutely no warning. And as for the explicit sex scenes, we see a family of young women (not all of them attractive) hungry for men which only turns out to be part of a lustful trap. And then there's a scene between Kidman and Law towards the end that doesn't leave much to the imagination. You know, maybe when I was 13 or so I would have done anything to have seen that, but nowadays it just makes me uncomfortable. I mean, I wasn't planning on watching a porn movie when I went in there and I doubt anyone else was either. It was completely inappropriate, in my opinion, just like a similar scene from The Matrix Reloaded and I'd have to think that most people would have to agree with me on this one.

picture from Cold Mountain

Another strange aspect of this film is in how it tries very hard to avoid the issue of racism, making it almost seem like a non-issue. However, what I do believe they were doing instead was to get us to see that the Civil War was not fought over the issue of slavery alone, but for many other reasons as well such as state's rights. There were several instances in which Confederate Soldiers would yell out how they weren't "fighting for some rich man's slaves" as most of them probably had none. Actually, it is very bold nowadays to have a movie with a Confederate Soldier as the main hero and the confederate flag to be flown out of pride rather than out of hatred. As always, it is refreshing and eye opening when we're forced to look at things from another viewpoint.

thumbs up!This movie won't lift you up or inspire you or make you feel good. But it is very well done and will be a force to be reckoned with come Oscar-time.

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