Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review: "Cold Mountain" Wants to Be Epic and Literary (Happy B'day, Anthony Minghella)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 4 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Cold Mountain (2003)
Running time: 154 minutes (2 hours, 34 minutes)
MPAA – R for violence and sexuality
DIRECTOR: Anthony Minghella
WRITER: Anthony Minghella (based upon the novel by Charles Frazier)
PRODUCERS: Albert Berger, William Horberg, Sydney Pollack, and Ron Yerxa
EDITOR: Walter Murch
Academy Award winner


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

Inman (Jude Law) fell in love with Reverend Monroe’s (Donald Sutherland) daughter, Ada (Nicole Kidman), without really knowing her, but there was something about her and there were no words to describe the strength of this new love. Then, Inman has to go off to fight for the Confederacy in the War Between States.

In the waning years of the war, Inman, after surviving a grave wound, deserts the Southern army and embarks on a perilous journey back home to Cold Mountain, North Carolina, realizing that he’s tired of killing and as a broken man, he could find comfort in Ada’s arms. Meanwhile, Ada is struggling on the home front until she’s meets a feisty young mountain girl, Ruby Thewes (Renée Zellweger), who helps Ada get her father’s farm back in order. Together the survive depredations, the home guard, and cruel local lawman looking for Ada’s love.

Director Anthony Minghella won an Academy Award for directing the powerful, tragic romance, The English Patient, and after following that with The Talented Mr. Ripley and now Cold Mountain, Minghella seems intent on making love stories that move inextricable to a tragic end. Minghella is a really good filmmaker; his movies play out as if directed by a thoughtful storyteller who combines the disciplined acting of stage drama with the visual punch of epic filmmaking.

Cold Mountain is beautifully photographed, and the war scenes, despite their brevity, are as emotionally charged as anything since Braveheart, and the scenes have that kind of old school charm that recalls the golden age Hollywood classic, Gone with the Wind. Cold Mountain is a film where all the skilled and technical crafts were put on film with bravado and intelligence and with an eye on beauty, as if the filmmakers knew that Cold Mountain was indeed a war film, but a war film with an eye on the love lives of the soldiers behind the lines.

The acting is earnest and good, but seems a bit strained at times. It’s too sweet, as if the actors know that they were in an important film, a film leaning more toward art than entertainment – we’re actors, and this time we’re acting in an important film, not starring in a blockbuster. In fact, the acting is reminiscent of the exaggerated, faux stage acting style of 1930 and 40’s Hollywood romance films. Combine this forced formalism with the fact that Cold Mountain is slightly miscast, and the film is suddenly kind of twitchy.

Cold Mountain is a very good film, and it is indeed a poignant romance with epic war as the backdrop. You weep for the character’s hardships, but you yearn as they long for love. If the ending had been at all agreeable, this would have been a perfect film, but what pleasures it offers are indeed gratifying, so I recommend it.

7 of 10

2004 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” (Renée Zellweger); 6 nominations: “Best Actor in a Leading Role” (Jude Law), “Best Cinematography” (John Seale), “Best Editing” (Walter Murch), “Best Music, Original Score” (Gabriel Yared), “Best Music, Original Song” (T-Bone Burnett and Elvis Costello for the song "Scarlet Tide") and “Best Music, Original Song” (Sting for the song "You Will Be My Ain True Love")

2004 BAFTA Awards: 2 wins: “Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music” (Gabriel Yared and T-Bone Burnett) and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” (Renée Zellweger); 11 nominations: “Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film” (Sydney Pollack, William Horberg, Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, and Anthony Minghella), “Best Cinematography” (John Seale) “Best Costume Design” (Ann Roth and Carlo Poggioli), “Best Editing” (Walter Murch), “Best Film” (Sydney Pollack, William Horberg, Albert Berger, and Ron Yerxa), “Best Make Up/Hair” (Paul Engelen and Ivana Primorac), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role” (Jude Law), “Best Production Design” (Dante Ferretti), “Best Screenplay – Adapted” (Anthony Minghella), “Best Sound” (Eddy Joseph, Ivan Sharrock, Walter Murch, Mike Prestwood Smith, and Matthew Gough) and “David Lean Award for Direction” (Anthony Minghella)

2004 Golden Globes: 1 win “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Renée Zellweger); 7 nominations: “Best Motion Picture – Drama,” “Best Director - Motion Picture” (Anthony Minghella), “Best Original Score - Motion Picture” (Gabriel Yared), “Best Original Song - Motion Picture” (Sting for the song "You Will Be My Ain True Love"), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Jude Law), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Nicole Kidman) and “Best Screenplay - Motion Picture” (Anthony Minghella)


No comments:

Post a Comment