From the very first words of its opening voice-over, inwhich a detectable trace of Aussie inflection invades Nicole Kidman's affectedSouthern accent, there's something amiss with "Cold Mountain,"a two-and-a-half-hour Civil War epic built around a lackluster love story,written and directed by an Englishman, starring half a dozen British actorsand shot in Romania.
Sweeping in scope, the picture's earnest intentions, periodatmosphere and cinematic beauty are above reproach as it portrays brutal,bloody, brother-against-brother battlefields and a North Carolina home-fronthamlet where prim, city-bred newcomer Ada Monroe (Nicole Kidman) waitsfor the return of her soldier sweetheart while struggling to survive onher dead father's farm.
And yet, the emotional investment in the characters issomething less than sweeping. The passionless decorum of Ada's first-reelcourtship by the adoring but reticent Inman (Jude Law), the declarationof war which cuts short their time together, and the questionable castingof Kidman -- who at 36 is too old to be credible as a bashful unmarriedbelle in 1864 Dixie -- result in a lack of validity and vitality that isn'tremedied until the invigorating second-act arrival of Renee Zellweger.
Continue reading: Cold Mountain Review