Starring: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger
Director: Anthony Minghella
Running Time: 154 mins
Cold Mountain is an American film about a Confederate soldier who deserts the army, and sets about an immense trek from the battlefield to his home town, where the love of his life is waiting.
This is the kind of film that could have been a cheesy, sappy romance. It could have been a frilly, superficial period drama. But it’s not. Cold Mountain, although not perfect, is a wonderful tale of the power of freedom, love and the will to survive.
Set against gorgeous natural backdrops that take in the many different landscapes of the southern USA, Cold Mountain is as much of an adventure, or even survival movie as it is a romantic drama. Epic in scale as it epic in emotion, the film really holds its own with an undeniably theatrical but genuinely moving style
Patiently paced throughout, the film does really well to pay due attention to both sides of its story, on the one hand focusing on the soldier’s epic trek home, as well as the plight of those left at home in an equally desperate state of affairs.
That brilliant balance of focus really plays into the film’s main theme: war is hell. Yes, there are wonderful romantic highs and incredible moments of drama, but the overriding message if Cold Mountain is the total devastation of conflict across all of society, even away from the battlefield.
While Jude Law’s soldier finds himself effectively on the run from all around him, Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger, still in the small mountain town of Cold Mountain, live under an oppressive regime by the town’s local Home Guard leader who claims to be working to protect them, but only seeks power.
The core of the story is indeed the power of love, as both Law and Kidman push on through hell in the hope they’ll see one another again, but the film also shows the power of fighting for freedom, an unshakeable desire that can fight against anything.
The intensity of that desire for freedom as well as the romantic passion of the story makes Cold Mountain a brilliantly moving watch, and so much more than the sappy period drama you might expect it to be.
With brilliant performances across the board from an incredible A-list cast consisting of no less than Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ray Winstone, Brendan Gleeson, Natalie Portman, Cillian Murphy and more, there’s no shortage of talent here, and every single one of the film’s leads really gives it their all in Cold Mountain.
Director Anthony Minghella brings that cast together so well, all the while keeping the story the centre of attention, rather than simply counting on the excitement of a love story full of Hollywood stars.
It’s Minghella who also plays a big part in the film’s excellent pacing, thematic depth and passionate style, along with fantastic editing, cinematography, music and production design that all come together to make Cold Mountain a really great film.
Overall, I loved Cold Mountain. A gorgeous, epic drama with deeply passionate romance, intensely moving themes and an incredible scope, it’s full of wonderful performances, beautiful visuals and excellent directing that make it an utterly enthralling watch. So, that’s why I’m giving Cold Mountain an 8.0.