Freely adapted from Charles Frazier's belovedbestseller
boasts an impeccable pedigree as a respectable Civil War love story, offering everything you'd want from a romantic epic except a resonant emotional core. Everything in this sweeping, Odyssean journey depends on believing in the instant love that ignites during avery
brief encounter between genteel, city-bred preacher's daughter Ada (Nicole Kidman) and Confederate soldier Inman (Jude Law), who deserts the battlefield to return, weary and wounded, to Ada's inherited farm in the rural town of Cold Mountain, North Carolina. In an epic (but dramatically tenuous) case of absence making hearts grow fonder, Inman endures a treacherous hike fraught with danger (and populated by supporting players including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, and others) while the struggling, inexperienced Ada is aided by the high-spirited Ruby (Renée Zellweger), forming a powerful farming partnership that transforms Ada into a strong, lovelorn survivor. The film's episodic structure slightly weakens its emotional impact, and it's fairly obvious that director Anthony Minghella is striving to repeat the prestigious romanticism of his Oscar®-winning hitThe English Patient
. For the most part it works, especially in the dynamic performances of Zellweger and Kidman, and the explosive 1864 battle of Petersburg, Virginia, is recreated with violent, percussive intensity. Those who admired Frazier's ...