FBMR - Cold Mountain
Film-Buff Movie Reviews

COLD MOUNTAIN (2003) ***

Set during the American Civil War, this is a story about two people who barely know each other, but have managed to connect on a level that most people never do, are separated by war, and long to be reunited. When Ada (Nicole Kidman) moves with her father, Reverend Monroe (Donald Sutherland) from Charlotte to Cold Mountain, North Carolina, she becomes drawn to Inman (Jude Law), a local carpenter and labourer. Inman has a habit of not talking very much, so Ada has to find ways to make him notice her, or speak to him. When the war is declared, Inman, along with the other young men from Cold Mountain, leaves to fight, but not before Ada gives him a book with her picture in it. They vow to wait for each other. They’d only had a few moments together, one kiss, but there is a bond, an intimate connection and they know they want to be with one another forever. Towards the end of the war, Inman is badly wounded and when he is read a letter from Ada who asks him to return to her and realizes that once healed he will be forced back to the front lines in a losing cause, he decides to desert. On his long and difficult journey he encounters a host of characters both friendly and not. Meanwhile, some of the men who weren’t able to go to war have taken it upon themselves to be cruel and vicious vigilantes; intimidating the townsfolk and hunting down deserters. Ada struggles with the farmhouse and the property until Ruby (Renée Zellweger) arrives to help.

As Inman travels, he meets a host of people. Some help him along his way, others betray him. Each time he meets someone new, the story takes a different turn. This film sometimes feels like a collection of little stories within a larger one. One of the characters Inman meets is Veasey (Philip Seymour Hoffman). And he’s a scene stealer. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s been in where he hasn’t been great. He is one of film’s most under-recognized actors out there. His versatility at playing comedy, playing a pathetic loser, playing a nasty villain, playing a cynic, playing a rich snob is incredible. And again, he does a wonderful job in this film. Some other actors with important supporting roles include Natalie Portman, Giovanni Ribisi, and Kathy Baker.

The Civil War scenes are brutal and very graphic. The love is pure and true. The villains are nasty, hiss-at-the-screen evil. And as heart-wrenching and sometimes sad the story is, there are some funny moments thanks to great characters like Ruby.

This film is very well done. It’s a great bit of storytelling.