Web Edition

lead stories
other news
photo gallery




chess forum
town talk


press releases


last week's issue

real estate
classified ads


For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

photo caption:
A MEMENTO FOR A SOLDIER FROM HIS GIRL: Ada (Nicole Kidman,left) hands Inman (Jude Law) a likeness of herself on the eve of his departure to fight in the Civil War.end caption.


Cold Mountain: Nicole Kidman and Jude Law Star in an Epic Civil War Film

The English Patient swept the Academy Awards in 1997, taking home a total of 9 Oscars, including gilded statuettes for Best Picture and Best Director. Set in the waning days of World War II, the 2 hour and 40 minute epic, told in a series of flashbacks, centered on the plight and passions of a seriously wounded soldier stuck in an Italian monastery. Written and directed by Anthony Minghella, the love story was loosely-based on the celebrated best-seller of the same name by Michael Ondaatje.

Given the phenomenal successful of that endeavor, one cannot fault Mr. Minghella for subsequently acquiring the rights to Cold Mountain, which won the National Book Award the same year. This 356 page Civil War opus by Charles Frazier echoed many of the same themes as The English Patient. Its protagonist, Inman, is a love-struck Confederate soldier who embarks on an odyssey worthy of Homer, dragging his bullet-ridden body back to Carolina in search of his sweetheart Ada.

In bringing this romance novel to the big screen, Minghella follows the same formula which worked for him before, adapting his source material into a 2 hour 35 minute melodrama replete with sweeping panoramas, slow-motion flashbacks and mushy-dialogue. But that's about where the similarities end, since Cold Mountain is a love story likely to leave you cold.

The problems with the productions are plentiful, starting with the casting of Nicole Kidman and Jude Law in the lead roles of Ada and Inman, respectively. Not only are this classy Australian and proper British gentleman a tad too refined to be taken seriously as Southerners, the pair share so few scenes together that they never get a chance to develop any chemistry.

Worse, they are both frequently upstaged by the far more colorful antics of supporting characters, most notably Renee Zellweger, who is adorable as twangy tomboy Ruby Thewes, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as philandering Reverend Veasey. The talented cast also includes Donald Sutherland, Natalie Portman, and Giovanni Ribisi.

Much like Odysseus wandering home after the Trojan War, Inman overcomes a bizarre assortment of ordeals while making the 300-mile trek across the war-ravaged South. Along the way, he encounters witches, escaped slaves, siren-like seductresses, bounty hunters, a single-mom, a man of the cloth, friends, and even enemies. Meanwhile, back atop Cold Mountain, Ada's burden is almost as arduous, after her abolitionist preacher father dies, leaving his prim and proper once-privileged daughter with no slaves to work the spacious plantation.

I frequently found aspects of the politically corrected plotline confusing, since it makes it awfully hard to remember which side, the North or the South, was the one opposed to slavery. Revisionist history and an unconvincing romance aside, this colossal costume drama is further complicated by the fact that it was shot almost entirely on location in Romania. While that steep, eastern European countryside is undeniable breathtaking, in my mind it looks nothing like Carolina. Cold Mountain comes heavily-laden with bluegrass and blood and guts, but otherwise it's just not authentic enough to garner my recommendation.

Fair (1&1/2 stars). Rated R for female frontal nudity, sexuality, battle scenes, rape, graphic violence, and gratuitous gore.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


Website Design by Kiyomi Camp