I stayed away from Cold Mountain from a long time. And my reason was so very silly. Civil War stories totally turn me off.
This should have been a film I saw in the theatre. Anthony Minghella is truly superb. Truly, Madly, Deeply and The English patient are among my favorite films of all times and this film continues his tradition of soaking every scene with rich colors and emotion. When I think of The English Patient I immediately feel the grit of sand and hot, dry wind. With Cold Mountain you smell the dirt, the sweat and blood, the wildflowers, the snow.
In true dramatic form, Minghella expertly delivers us to the sob-inducing moment at the end. I’m still uncertain if it’s similarities to the plane crash-painted cave scene in The English Patient is good, acceptable, or a bit of a cop-out. Regardless, it still succeeds in leaving you a bit wrung-out and exhausted.
The cast is excellent. Jude Law, even though they batter and bloody him, still manages to look pretty good and Renee Zellweger is rich with character. And Nicole Kidman is lovely and tall and thin and perfectly cast as a southern belle who has her Gone with the Wind moments (although she toughens up nicely). Get over whatever reservations you have and just rent it.