COLD MOUNTAIN Rating: NNNN
Anthony Minghella's adaptation of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain sets the improbable beauty of Nicole Kidman's and Jude Law's chaste love against the gritty background of the American Civil War. Law deserts after being wounded to journey home to a woman with whom he's spoken barely a hundred words. Like The English Patient, Cold Mountain is a story of love and fate during a time of war. Unlike The English Patient, it doesn't have an ostentatiously tricky, time-shifting narrative structure and unlikeable characters - indeed, the secondary roles in the film are so strongly cast that they become the setting for the stars. Renée Zellweger's Ruby, Philip Seymour Hoffman's disgraced preacher, Natalie Portman's widowed mother and Brendan Gleeson's vagrant fiddler give context to the nobility and purity of the leads, and without them the leads would be unbearable.
Working with his regular crew - cinematographer John Seale, editor Walter Murch, composer Gabriel Yared and costume designer Ann Roth all worked on The English Patient and The Talented Mr. Ripley - Minghella does a remarkable job of convincing us that we are indeed in the wartorn American South.
Well worth the distended running time.