174 – Cold Mountain

Neither engrossing or compelling, Cold Mountain is a tale of a Confederate soldier (Jude Law) and his attempts to return home to his sweetheart (Nicole Kidman) in North Carolina.

Since Inman (Law) has been gone for so long, Ada Monroe has taken over the management of her farm. But since the Civil War is underway, there aren’t any handymen to be found who could help her with the day-to-day operations, so Ruby Thewes (Rene Zellweger), a rough-and-tumble tomboy who happens to have long, flowing blonde hair and wear a copious amount of lipstick, shows up to lend a hand and a barbed tongue.

There are two story strands: Inman’s travails as he desperately tries to get home (and labeled a deserter, at that) and Ada’s difficulties as she alternately clears fields and pines for Inman. And pine she does! She can’t live without him, it seems, and yet.. and yet somehow, she does. She puts off advances from other, opportunistic menfolk who are a-dyin’ to get in her britches, all the while learning all kinds of Man Stuff, like firing a gun. O, will she survive? Will Inman make it home before his not-a-wife gives up and marries the cad from down the lane? I’m all a-twitter with my ruminations.

Kidman and Law are well cast and do have some chemistry together (and Kidman’s appropriately pale in complexion, since she’s playing someone who’s been sheltered most of her life, at least figuratively speaking). Zellweger, however, seems hilariously miscast. I know part of it is because her character’s so broadly written, but her performance alternately made me chuckle and cringe, chuckle and cringe.

It doesn’t help that the movie’s slowly paced and has at least two too many endings. Anthony Minghella directed, though, so that was to be expected.

Cold Mountain: **

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