*** Official COLD MOUNTAIN Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Patrick Sun, Dec 25, 2003.

  1. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    I was prepared not to like this film, but once you get past its initial lackluster 45 minutes, the film gains a foothold and progresses rather nicely. The film definitely gets a shot in the arm with the arrival of Renee Zellwegger's and Phillip Seymour Hoffmans's characters, and is very watchable and enjoyable (though a tad predictable, but not objectionably so). The character development of Ada (Nicole Kidman) is well done, plus she looks damn stunning in winter, and Ruby (Renee Zellwegger) pretty much steals every scene with her dialogue and demeanor. Inman (Jude Law) has the difficult task of being a sympathetic deserter in the Civil War, but I feel he succeeds as he makes his way "home" to Ada.

    I give it 3 stars, or a grade of B.
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Cold Mountain". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.

  3. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

    Feb 22, 2000
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    Cold Mountain is completely conventional in every way. There isn't a single memorable thing about it, the script, the acting, technically, the score, nothing. It has moments of emotional connection, and moments of a deeper allusion to the dehumanizing effects of war on both combatants and noncombatants, but it always pulls away from delving deeper in favor, after a promising opening 20-30m, into a movie of pieces, going from one scene/"event" to the next, each with a different star actor as the focal point. It felt not so much like following a character's arc as, here Jude Law meets Philip Seymour Hoffman, oh look now Jude Law meets Giovanni Ribisi, and what have we here? Why its Natalie Portman, etc. etc.

    Also I don't like Renee Zellweger. She pulls me out of virtually every movie she's in with her facial tics and less than convincing vocal affectations. But I did enjoy the early bits of the movie, the "in the past" segments, much of that is probably due to Donald Sutherland, always fine, even in this small role. But with an ending as paint by numbers seen it all before right down to the cuts as this one has, I can't give it much of a grade. C+
  4. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

    Jun 22, 2003
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    Lots of good ideas, but the film was ultimately a mess, filled with lengthy scenes that should have been cut. For instance, the opening battle scene has nothing to do with the film, and is setup as if it will play an integral part in the movie. The whole episode with Natalie Portman should have been cut since the last 2hrs of the film (and the whole film really) was already about the impact of war in the home. It was cliche and redundant, but couldn't be cut since Portman was featured in it. Everything with the piano too should have been cut since it amounted to the simple point of aspects of her life that she needed to give up in order to become a new independent woman (the film's pro-feminist agenda though is then undercut by how her life is finally fulfilled once she has sex with a man and becomes a mother, totally striking down any possible relationship with Ruby which had been implied as a possibility up until the last 10 minutes). Minghella seemed to be aware of just how boring the film is, and thus utilized and kept Philip Seymour Hoffman around for so long merely as comic relief. The only reason Zellwegger is getting such good reviews is because her energy saved viewers from dying of boredom.

    What really made me mad at times was how poor of a job Minghella did photographing the film. There were numerous shots where the focus was unintentionally soft. The framing was also awful at points. There is this one shot of a close-up of Law with Kidman's nose just making it into the right side of the frame.
  5. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    Anthony Minghella’s Cold Mountain tells the horror stories of war in its many episodic strands with a love story as its centerpiece. Some of these episodes include a morally bankrupt minister, an opportunistic backwoods southerner, an unsuspecting widow and a helpful old lady.

    Minghella spends far too much time in setting up the film’s romantic storyline in its first hour with mixed results that by the time Renee Zellweger’s character was finally introduced, it is a welcome relief. In the end, the love story feels heavy handed as we are forced to accept that Nicole Kidman’s Ada is in love with Jude Law’s Inman and vice-versa rather than the audience actually feeling and discovering this for themselves. After a while, the continuous bombardment of voice over narration and profession of love throughout by Kidman, one almost wants to scream, “Yes, we get it. She is in love. Now, move on!”.

    The acting is very good throughout but this is already expected given the names of the actors involved. I’m not quite sure though if the more recognizable names in the very minor supporting roles are needed especially Kathy Baker, Natalie Portman, Giovanni Ribisi and Philip Seymour Hoffman were a good choice as their star recognition becomes more of a liability than an asset.

    Minghella tells the brutality of war on those folks who are left behind. While this may be one of the few movies to address this in a civil war film, the subject has been addressed before in a much better way in The Deer Hunter.

    Cold Mountain is another competent screen adaptation of a literary work. But it trails far behind the better executed The Return of the King and Master and Commander.

  6. Michael Were

    Michael Were Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 7, 2001
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    I went into this film hoping that it couldn't be worse than the English Patient and low and behold it was equally as bad of melodramatic, transparent dribble. I like these three things independently (melodrama:Empire of the Sun; Transparent:any John Hughes film and dribble:Baby Snakes) but putting them together Minghella has created a film that I am having a hard time finding a bright spot. But I did find Philip Seymour Hoffman's character entertaining. His experience of having to shit so bad and then finally being able to go
    typified my experience when I could leave the theater.

    I think the supporting cast exceeded the primary actors (possibly because Jude and Nicole were trapped in two dimensional roles that they couldn't act out of). The only supporting actor that didn't work for me was Zellwegger. Her pouting, quirky delivery of lines contrasted so much with the black/white flavor of this flick. Minghella's characters don't have any depth. How can characters be just bad (and if they are that sadistic can't we learn why they are so malicious?)?

    The only thing keeping myself in my seat was the hordes of other people (some who even found didn't expect the ending (judging by their gasps)) in my row. It was the first film that I have seen in a theater that I didn't sit through the credits in several years.

    If you value your time you will avoid this film with your last breath. negative [​IMG] out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Dec 11, 2000
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    Being an admirer of the novel, I had mixed feelings when I heard that Cold Mountain was being made into a movie. Granted, the novel breaks no new ground storywise, but Charles Frazier's florid prose elevates it far above the norm - I think the book is a modern classic.

    Fortunately Anthony Minghella has come through once again with another fine adaptation of a difficult novel. Cold Mountain is as good as could be expected given that Frazier's writing is what made the novel.

    Opening at Petersburg, we see through Inman's eyes the horror of war. He is present when the Union Army detonates a hugh cache of gunpowder under the Confederate fortifications. Nearly killed in the blast, he then becomes witness to a massacre: the attacking Union troops are trapped and slaughtered in the massive crater (this is an actual historical event, the specifics of which are even more tragic). Subsequently wounded in a skirmish, Inman decides enough is enough. He knows the war is lost and he's tired of killing. He wants only to go home to Cold Mountain, to see Ada, the girl he loves. It is the thought of her that keeps him going. So he deserts and begins the long journey home...

    Meanwhile, Ada, a newcomer to Cold Mountain, is having a tough time of it. Her father dies and leaves her penniless (his investments blown away by the winds of war). Ada is well-read, but she knows nothing about how to make a living. She longs to see Inman again, for he could make things right...

    And that's the gist of it. To put it on screen, Anthony Minghella has assembled a dream team of talent including John Seale, Walter Murch, and Dante Ferretti. Cold Mountain is technically superb, a beautiful film to look at.

    Jude Law does fine as Inman and it's a credit to his skills that we end up caring so much for such a reserved character. Nicole Kidman as Ada is good, if perfunctory. Ada is not much of a stretch for her to play, and at this stage in her career, it seems to be a step back. She's coasting here, but hey, it's good coasting. Renee Zellweger steals the show as Ruby, though some have apparently found her performance to be too much. For me, the character's colorful language and attitude added a humorous counterpoint to the solemn goings-on. The supporting cast is more or less in the same boat. One gets the impression that Cold Mountain was a high-profile project in Hollywood and everyone wanted a piece. Philip Seymour Hoffman comes off best as Veasey the fallen preacher. Brendan Gleeson isn't quite right for the role of Stobrod - he's not bad, but his dynamic personality is muted here. And Natalie Portman? Eh, she's okay, but her part is little more than a cameo. I have to side with Edwin in that the supporting cast would have been better realized with unknowns.

    Many of the Cold Mountain naysayers are taking the film to task for keeping Inman and Ada apart for so long. Well, that was the point. The thought of seeing each other is what keeps Inman and Ada going through one of the most trying times in our history. Others are belittling the film by calling it obvious Oscar bait. My only (minor) quibbles are with the cast. Otherwise Cold Mountain is a darn good tragic romance/historical drama and makes a fine companion piece to Minghella's The English Patient.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  8. Chris Atkins

    Chris Atkins Producer

    May 9, 2002
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    Wow. I didn't expect to like this movie much, let alone put it at the top of my list for the year.

    This movie has the best performances I have seen on screen all year. And darn near everyone gives a great performance. Renee Zellweger should win an oscar for her role...just amazing. Natalie Portman also did a nice job. Jude Law and Nicole Kidman were also top notch, though I could see neither of them getting a nomination (expecially Jude).

    The cinematography is also top notch. I would put LAST SAMURAI just ahead of COLD MOUNTAIN, but they should both get nominations in this category. (One aside: Romania was okay as a North Carolina substitute but anyone who travels much in the Appalachians or Blue Ridge could easily tell that this was not filmed in the US).

    The music was good but not great...nothing that really stuck out at me. It was serviceable, though.

    The editing is also excellent. Wasn't surprised to see Walter Murch's name appear under the editing credit. There are some extremely nice and effective scene transitions and cuts (the one that sticks out in particular is from Ada playing the piano on the wagon cutting to her playing at a party).

    The emotion is what got me. I wasn't expecting to get that attached to the characters, but I did. I nearly cried at the last scene. It was that powerful.
  9. streeter

    streeter Screenwriter

    May 24, 2001
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    I was completely surprised by this. I was expecting another unworthy Miramax pushie like Chocolat, Shakespeare in Love, The English Patient or The Cider House Rules.

    But I absolutely loved it. It's not something everyone will enjoy because it's very old-fashioned. It's an all-star episodic epic like those of the 50s and 60s - made in a dead language.

    Characters come and go. I particularly liked Cillian Murphy (star of 28 Days Later) as a sympathetic soldier, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a perverted reverend, Brendan Gleeson, Ethan Suplee and Jack White (of the White Stripes) as wandering musicians, and most of all, Charlie Hunnam (Nicholas Nickleby) as an evil acrobatic albino (no kidding).

    I adored its old-fashioned sensibilities. One of my favorite films of 2003.

    That said, the performances were very solid, but not worthy of Oscar nominations.
  10. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

    Jul 4, 1997
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    Uh.. this will be a placeholder for now. This movie was beyond terrible. I can't think of what I really want to say.. it's hard for me to watch a civil war movie where there are almost no black actors present and who anything regarding them is so entirely background in this way.

    Having not read the book, maybe that's how it is. Jude Law & Kidman's characters were as flat as pancakes, and they seemed to have no real emotional interest in any reason for their characters to have any outcome.. "oh, the wa-ah is terrible" type stuff.

    This movie tried it's darndest to pull emotional strings, but when I noticed my wife checking her watch every fifteen minutes or so, I knew that this had some problems. The secondary cast performed very well in their roles, but there wasn't much to them either.

    [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  11. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

    Jan 12, 1999
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    Monroe, LA
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    Tim Glover
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    Brutal, but touching nonetheless. The acting was great. For a second I thought Renee Z might take me out of the picture, but she actually brought some freshness to it. Good call there.

    Nicole Kidman was terrific too.
  12. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

    Jan 16, 2002
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    Bryan Tuck
    I think Anthony Minghella should stop trying to make love stories, because he doesn't really seem to understand what makes them work. Cold Mountain is certainly better than the vastly overrated English Patient, but its central love story between Ada (Nicole Kidman) and Inman (Jude Law) is no more convincing.

    And that's a shame, because just about everything else is great. The cinematography, music, production design, and even Minghella's direction (when he's not focusing on the love story) all work together very well. The performances, particularly most of the supporting players, are also affecting. Kidman and Law are not spectacular (they've both been much better), but they do fine. Even though their emotional connection to each other is never that compelling, I did care about them individually as characters.

    Some of the aforementioned supporting work is pretty impressive. Renee Zellweger is not nearly as annoying as I thought she would be, and she actually adds some energy to certain scenes that would otherwise have been too melodramtic. Also of note is Natalie Portman as the widowed mother Inman befriends. I hope her brief but memorable performance will convince some people that she actually is a good actress when she has good material to work with (much as it pains me to imply that Star Wars is not good material, but that's another story).

    At any rate, I did enjoy most of the film, but the love story that is supposed to tie everything together is actually the weakest link. It may be a cliche to say it, but this is a case where the sum of the parts really is greater than the whole.

    Grade: B

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