RULE OF LAW ( At the Box-Office )

It's Homer for the 21st century. Cold Mountain is a sprawling Odyssean melodrama set against the backdrop of the Civil War, whose actors possess star quality and have earned Oscar nominations, but whose performances are at times dwarfed by the sweep and grandeur of the movie's narrative.

By Chandrashekhar

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Published: Sat 28 Feb 2004, 2:29 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:37 AM

Buena Vista/Miramax/Mirage


(on screens at cinemas in the UAE)

Inman (Jude Law) is a shy carpenter in the town of Cold Mountain, North Carolina. Just as the prospect of Civil War looms large, an elderly priest (Donald Sutherland) moves into town for health reasons, accompanied by his attractive young daughter Ada (Nicole Kidman). She and Inman barely exchange a glance or word, but fall deeply in love and barely get to declare it before Inman is called to action.

Moving between two time frames and various locations, Cold Mountain for the most part is about Ada and Inman's individual travails; he deserts the army, and has a long and arduous trek back home, while Ada, after her father's death, struggles desperately to rework the farm. She accomplishes this thanks to help from the tough and feisty Ruby Thewes (René Zellweger) who lands up in her yard one morning offering her services, demanding an equal place at the dinner table in return.

Scraps of information about Ada filter through to Inman through letters she writes (he never writes back) before his journey back to Cold Mountain, a weary one punctuated by bizarre incidents and involving unusual people. There is the portly priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) Inman prevents from killing a slave girl; the farmer (Giovanni Ribisi) he helps and who offers hospitality, only to turn him in to the authorities; the grieving widow and young mother (Natalie Portman) who offers Inman shelter and receives his protection from brutal soldiers in return.

Cold Mountain is handsomely mounted and well acted. To Jude Law go the honours; he effects the development and maturity of Inman from a callow, bronzed carpenter to a pale, bearded messianic hero with world-weary eyes. Kidman's Ada comes across less effectively; she retains bone structure, perfect complexion and a solitary expression through all the travails of farm life, and isn't helped much by the contrast offered by René Zellweger's tough-talking Ruby who has little problem standing up to her drunken father (Brendan Gleeson) or the local military bully (Ray Winstone). Gabriel Yared's score is less impressive than in other Minghella-directed movies, using a brooding Yo Yo Ma-like cello rather than his trademark 'epic' ensemble. But all said, a grand film, both entertaining and inspiring.

Rating: * * * 1/2

Starring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, René Zellweger, Eileen Atkins, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, etc.

Music by Gabriel Yared

Edited by Walter Murch

Cinematography by John Seale

Special effects by Double Negative, Framestore CFC

Screenplay by Anthony Minghella

Based on the novel by Charles Frazier

Produced by Albert Berger, William Horberg, Sydney Pollack, Ron Yerxa

Directed by Anthony Minghella

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