COLD MOUNTAIN (Anthony Minghella, 2003)

Anthony Minghella’s Cold Mountain is a vacuous film, with little or no emotional payoff for all our enduring 155 minutes of narrative nonsense. Some of the acting is okay (Nicole Kidman’s, for example), but most of it is god-awful, including Renée Zellweger’s preposterous Oscar-winning turn as a plainspoken mountain woman. As far as I’ve been able to determine, there is no reason for Zellweger’s existence as an actress (although I like her, that is, in all her Letterman appearances). Incredibly, there is no sense throughout of Confederate deserter Inman’s arduously making his way back home, the whole premise of the Civil War antiwar plot; indeed, the film is unhelpfully imbued with a suspended sense of time, which works back home as Inman’s return is anticipated, but doesn’t work in Inman’s part of the film in the back-and-forth structuring. Here is visual proof: we don’t feel that Inman reaches home; rather, he simply, finally, pops up there.
     Oh, the film is needlessly and disgustingly gross and violent. Minghella uses war as an excuse to indulge his appetite for punishing us.

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