I went into "Cold Mountain" with an attitude. I am a non-fan of Anthony Minghella, and only went to see this film due to the request of my companion for the evening. Completely unexpectedly, I found myself swept up in the razor sharp direction of Minghella, his wonderful screenplay, the sparkling cinematography of John Seale and strong cast headed by Jude Law as Inman, Nicole Kidman as Ada and Oscar winner Renee Zellweger as Ruby.
Where previous Minghella productions have felt emotionally detached even in their dramatic moments, this film features remarkable character development even in a character such as Inman...who speaks very little but Law makes the most of this character through his actions, body language and facial expressions. It's a remarkable, understated performance that received a well deserved Oscar nomination.
Strong, but not quite as multi-faceted is the performance offered by Kidman...many critics were surprised she did not receive an Oscar nomination. I can't go that far...It's a strong performance, but in many ways one-dimensional. Perhaps an even bigger factor is that Kidman, in many of her scenes, is far outshined by mouthy, funny and boisterous Renee Zellweger as Ruby. Having seen this film following the Oscar win by Zellweger, I went into the film with high expectations for her performance. Zellweger met and surpassed these expectations in a performance that simply radiates.
Throughout "Cold Mountain" you will find smaller, but brilliant supporting performances including those by the always dependable Phillip Seymour Hoffman along with Kathy Baker, Donald Sutherland, Natalie Portman (who know the girl could act?), Giovanni Ribisi, Ray Winstone, Jena Malone and even Jack White (of the "White Stripes"). It's a remarkable supporting cast, all whom shine in their time on screen.
The film's soundtrack is a perfect accompaniment to the film...never sounding out of place or awkward. Featured are Oscar nominated songs by Sting and Elvis Costello.
The film also received Oscar nominations for cinematography, editing, original score, original song. Zellweger's win was the only Oscar win for the film.
Unexpectedly, I find myself recommending this film. Minghella fans will be happy, along with fans of any of the aforementioned cast members. Fans of Civil War era films should be captivated, and I can't help but believe that most film fans will find something to enjoy here. This film is definitely adult fare and holds an "R" rating due to its adult themes, violence, scenes of sexuality and intense imagery.