Monday, January 19, 2004


I don't care how many Golden Globes are clanging around in Cold Mountain's future. All of them banging against each other in 8-part harmony could not drown out the sound of the fellow sitting behind me in the theater SNORING early, EARLY in the first act. The film is a bore.

Cold Mountain is from director Anthony Minghella, who gave us the earnestly languid, Oscar collecting 1996 film, The Patient Audience...oh, silly me, I mean, of course, The English Patient. Despite its ploddingness, I actually liked a lot of The English Patient. It had some lovely frames to look at and a slew of well-developed, intriguing characters.

In a striking lack of creativity, Cold Mountain meanders through its first hour or so using the same structural device as Patient; flashbacks in the memory of a bed-ridden man. But the film ultimately fails because it breaks the cardinal rule of filmmaking: it never establishes sympathy for the two main characters. We don't care about the two leads, Nicole Kidman and Jude Law before the story launches off and the screen gets cluttered with explosions and scenery. We don't feel any chemistry between them. Hence, we are not at all invested in whether they will ever find their way back through the Civil War to live happily ever after together. The film makes the mistake of assuming that we will like thesee two people because they are both beautiful.

Minghella ought to be slapped with a clammy carp for spending so much time storyboarding shots and recreating the Civil War in modern day Albania, but forgetting to make us like his main characters.

The best thing about Cold Mountain is the performance of Renee Zellwegger. She really goes for it as an unglamorous, redneck daughter of the South, and brings the only real humor and sympathy to the film in the process.

I was also really annoyed by the ridiculous acrobatic sex that Nicole and Jude had to go through for the cameras. It just felt ridiculous in light of the fact that they have both been starving to death and have become essentially different people by all they've suffered. Just couldn't see these two people pulling a strip tease at their hardwon reunion just like they stumbled off the set of Sex in the City.

Minghella obviously sensed that there would be nothing in the film for the viewers if he proceeded to kill off Jude Law's character immediately after the reunion WITHOUT first letting his two leads demonstrate the most mind-blowing Kama Sutra techniques the planet has ever seen.

Well, he was right that there isn't much for the viewers here. Unfortunately, naked stars writhing around don't fill the void.

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