Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain


Reviewed by: David Haviland

Alfred Hitchcock once said that the length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder. I support this sentiment, although suspect the detail betrays Hitchcock's age at the time of the quip, for, as a younger man, I'd suggest a better measure would be the suppleness of the human bottom. Whatever your measure, anything over two hours has most people shifting in their seats, which means 2003, the year of the epic revival, has been a real arse-acher.

In the latest of these, Jude Law plays Inman, a brooding labourer in the small farming village of Cold Mountain. When Ada (Nicole Kidman) arrives, Inman is mesmerised by her delicate beauty and they exchange passionate glances, a few words and one kiss. The Civil War begins and Inman is enlisted to fight the Yankees, but after months of apparently futile heroism, he deserts, determined to make his way back to Ada.

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She, meanwhile, has been left in charge of her late daddy's farm and nearly starves as a result until the earthy Ruby (Renee Zellwegger) arrives and gets stuck in building, digging and frankly minging. She's also handy with a gun, which is lucky, as the few men left in town, led by Ray Winstone's hissable Teague, are capable of anything.

There are some great scenes in Cold Mountain, but as a whole it's overblown, overlong and suffers from a weak central storyline. Inman and Ada are apart for most of the film and we don't long for them to be reunited; partly because we've barely seen them together in the first place, but also because they're both so humourless.

The supporting threads are much more successful, with Philip Seymour Hoffman providing much needed comic relief and Zellwegger and Natalie Portman giving touching, multi-layered performances. The cinematography is striking throughout and there is one incredibly brutal battle sequence that few will forget.

Of the epics set on planet, rather than Middle, earth this year, Cold Mountain has deservingly been the most celebrated in the early awards indicators. It has some great moments, but unfortunately the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

Reviewed on: 16 Jan 2004
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Epic, romantic journey of a Confederate deserter during the last year of the American civil war.
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Angus Wolfe Murray ***1/2

Director: Anthony Minghella

Writer: Anthony Minghella, based on the novel by Charles Frazier

Starring: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, Donald Sutherland, Ray Winstone, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Kathy Baker, James Gammon, Giovanni Ribisi, Eileen Atkins

Year: 2003

Runtime: 152 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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