Cold Mountain

Minghella's Civil War saga aims high

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OPENED DECEMBER 26, CERT 15, 153 MINS

Many were surprised when Anthony Minghella followed The English Patient, a visually dazzling epic of yearning love and churning war, with the creepy The Talented Mr Ripley. However, he’s now milking Miramax for another grand-scale yarn of hot-flush romance and Bosch-like violence. And he doesn’t stop at emulating his own Oscar-grabber. Here he’s shooting for the mommy of them all: Gone With The Wind.

The Civil War, the 1860s; immediately we’re thrown into the bearpit of Gettysburg. The bloody scenes here will draw comparisons to Saving Private Ryan’s opening. Southerner Inman (Jude Law) can’t take any more and deserts. His goal, we learn in flashbacks, is to return to his beloved Ada (Nicole Kidman) at her farm in Cold Mountain. As Inman makes his long, dangerous pilgrim’s progress, we see Ada’s life fall apart as dad Donald Sutherland dies and evil Ray Winstone closes in. Add comic/poignant turns from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman and one Jack White, great photography and astute humour, and this almost topples Tara. But not quite.

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