By Rebecca Redshaw
War is not about lists of casualties or battles won anymore than movies are about production costs or box office tallies. War is about individuals who fear for their life and, on occasion, pray for their death, about men and women who are ripped apart for reasons they struggle to remember in the best of times.
Director Anthony Minghella paints a cinematic picture of the Civil War in epic proportions yet seen through the eyes of one soldier. The madness of war and the disillusionment of purpose leads Inman (played by Jude Law) to desert and struggle to return home to Cold Mountain and Ada, his inspiration for survival.
Under any circumstances, Nicole Kidman as Ada would be hard to resist. Kidman embodies the porcelain essence of femininity wrapped in Southern charm. Seemingly helpless, she rises to the challenge of survival on the home front, determined to wait for her one true love.
COLD MOUNTAIN benefits from any number of factors, not the least of which is an incredible ensemble of actors. Renée Zellweger stands tall in talent beside the statuesque Kidman. Sometimes recognizable stars detract from storytelling, yet Donald Sutherland, Kathy Baker, Natalie Portman, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are woven seamlessly into the saga, adding to its believability.
But CM centers on two people and their desperate struggle to reunite. How does a director maintain that thread of passion over two hours plus? Minghella has assembled a team behind the camera that facilitates the telling of Inman and Ada’s years of struggle. Working with him on THE ENGLISH PATIENT and THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, cinematographer John Seale and editor Walter Murch reinforce the team concept of creativity unique to the art of film.
It’s unusual, at least in this column, to give credit to a production company but MIRAMAX deserves a nod of recognition. Whether the box office justifies the bottom line is as inconsequential as who won or lost the battle. What’s important is that audiences have the opportunity to see good stories on the screen.