Directed by the Isle of White graduate Anthony Mingella and based on the book by Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain tells the story of Inman (Jude Law), a wounded Civil War soldier and deserter, who makes the long journey back to his sweetheart Ada (Nicole Kidman) while hiding from both his own side and the Yankees.
Based on actual events, the film was recently the highest earner of Golden Globe nominations, and seems set to repeat this success at the Academy Awards. To be frank, the year has not had a great number of well directed or written films, so this is not an extraordinary feat in itself. However, Cold Mountain is in my opinion the first film this year that actually deserves any of these awards.
The direction is absolutely superb, with first rate battle scenes where one can actually feel the soldier’s thoughts, a well-paced story, and strong characterisations (that Minghella wrote the film’s screenplay is further proof of his absolute conviction in where the story is going, and how he is going to get there).
Jude Law is excellent as the lost soldier, while Nicole Kidman delivers a strong performance, especially in the second half. However, Renee Zellweger outshines everyone else as the farm hand Ruby – contrary to my expectations she is well cast, utterly believable, and completely heartbreaking. The leads are supported by an able cast including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ray Winstone, Donald Sutherland and Brendan Gleeson.
Only once does the film threaten to dissolve into self-indulgency – however, Minghella stops at just the right moment, and retains a heady hold throughout.
The cinematography is beautiful, the costumes understated but perfectly placed, and the music wonderful. This is a fine film to cherish. Good luck at the Oscars!