Ada Monroe (Nicole Kidman) arrives in the small town of “Cold Mountain” with her father (Donald Sutherland) the new preacher. Working on the new church is Inman (Jude Law) a local labourer who seems to have lost his ability to hold a conversation. Ada and Inman start to fall in love but just as quickly as the love blossoms, Inman is off to fight in the civil war. Although distraught at the prospect of losing her new man, Ada promises to wait for Inman to return. The story is told in flashbacks as Inman struggles to stay alive on the front lines near Petersburg, he is inured and after some treatment he escapes from the military hospital, becomes a deserter and travels on foot back towards Cold Mountain. Along the way he meets up with a rather sleazy minister (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and a single mother struggling to survive (Natalie Portman), his quest to get home putting his life in danger from the homeguard hunting down deserters of the war. Meanwhile in Cold Mountain Ada is struggling to survive after her father dies and she receives help from Ruby (Renee Zellweger) a sassy and raw young woman who has big plans for the farm. The local lawmen however also have their eyes on the farm and do their best to take it back by whatever means they can.
Cold Mountain is epic in scale and length and boasts some terrific performances from the lead cast. Jude Law plays Inman straight down the line, as a man desperate to get back to his girl. Nicole Kidman seems to walk through the film looking far too pretty for her own good, and her characters chemistry with Inman at times feels forced. Zellweger on the other hand steals the show as the funny and adorable Ruby, a real tomboy with a hint of sexual tension. These characters along with some stunning supporting roles from Portman and Hoffman in particular, bring the story of Cold Mountain to life and give the film the added edge over normal romantic dramas. The direction from Anthony Minghella along with the epic cinematography by John Seale is first class and captures the feelings and settings of civil war America to great effect. The film just manages to fall short from being a must see classic, but what is on show here will impress, if only they could have shaved a few more minutes off the running time.
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