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Movie Review: Cold Mountain

Alternate Title: Scarlett O'Hara Meets The Fugitive

Story: Writer and director Anthony ( I do great book adaptations) Minghella (The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley) delivers us a terrific journey to Cold Mountain. The film is based on the best selling Odyssey inspired novel by Charles Frazier (let it be known that I could not slog my way through this book).

It is 1864, the brutal Civil War is winding down, and young Inman deserts his platoon to go home to be with his love, Ada Monore, a young woman he left three years before to go fight for the South. His journey home is one half of the film. The other half is how young Ada copes with life on the farm without help after her father dies.

Through flashes back and forth in time we get to see how they met and fell in love. The film is mostly episodic and like a novel as we get to meet fully realized characters along the way.

The production team deserves kudos for a visually stunning film with some memorable imagery. The score is also worth mentioning as are the costumes.

It is a bloody, brutal depiction of the waning days of the war and what it has done to the people both left behind and those in the midst of the fighting. It is a love story, a war story and a story of survival.

Acting: Terrific all around. Jude Law is wonderful as young Inman. His part does not require much dialogue but I found him believable and very good to look at. Nicole Kidman was more than fine as Ada Monroe. The only flaw with her role was that she always looked too well scrubbed. It was annoyingly unbelievable. Renee Zellweger is one of those actresses that I never think I am going to like but usually end of applauding. This role was no exception. A fine supporting cast of names includes the always amazing Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ray Winstone, Brendan Gleeson, Natalie Portman, Kathy Baker, Giovanni Ribisi, Charlie Hunnam and Eileen Atkins.

Predilection: Jude Law is very pleasant on the eye.

Critters: Livestock galore, including chickens, cows, sheep, goats and then there are horses, crows and vultures. Some do not fare too well, I am sad to say.

Food: Lots of stew and much of the above unnamed livestock.

Visual Art: The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful. The Translyvanian Alps of Romania was the location of choice as the substitute for the Blue Ridge Mountains of the 1860s.

Blatant Product Placement: None.

Soundtrack: Perfectly haunting and melancholy.

Opening Titles: Type superimposed over slow moving water.

Theater Audience: It was a preview screening audience and was pretty crowded for a 9AM showing.

Sappy Factor: 2

Squirm Scale: 4 - War is hell and very squirmy for humans and critters.

Predictability Level: High - even though I did not finish the book.

Tissue Usage: I used just one but my movie buddy went through a small pocket pack.

Oscar Worthy: Most likely it will get several nominations especially for production.

Nit Picking: It was toooooooo long.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. The impact of the visual expansiveness would be lost on the small screen. For some other films starring Jude Law try: Road to Perdition, Artificial Intelligence: AI, Enemy at the Gates, Talented Mr. Ripley, The Wisdom of Crocodiles, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Gattaca and Wilde

Length: Two hours and thirty-five (extra) minutes - at times it seemed as long as the Civil War itself.