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Cold Mountain

Like all Anthony Minghella's film's so far, a lush period piece with a doomed love story at it's core. In fact, as a filmmaker you have to ask yourself if he can do anything else. He has such a dinstinctive style, language and directorial eye he could be a production line manager for these sorts of poetic tomes.

His talent is undeniable, however, enmeshing beauty and brutality so flawlessly they're part of the same lyric. In fact, he even makes the brutality and violence of the periods he's visited (usually a war or military insurrection of one sort or another) beautiful themselves. As Jude Law wanders dazedly through a battlefield where northern and confederate troops slaughter each other in an ocean of bloody mud, there's such a passionate quality to it.

And it's the director's stamp that got this movie made and sold, because otherwise it was nothing particularly special. A beautiful young woman, Ada, (Kidman) comes to the remote town of Col Mountain where she starts to fall in love with a young confederate soldier Inman (Law) in the moments they have together before the outbreak of the civil war. When he's wounded and receives a letter from her asking him to return to her, he deserts the army (a killing offence) and the story skews into two; he trying to make his way back home to her, her dealing with the trials and triublations of life at home. All he has to keep him going is the belief that she's waiting for him, all she has is the belief he's coming.

The story is well fleshed out for both protagonists; the corrupt home guard terrorise the town on the pretext of looking for war deserters, Ada's gets help on the farm from no nonsense girl of the land Ruby (Zellweger), and Inman stumbles across plenty of opportunities to help his fellow man, among them wonderfully self-depreciating fallen priest Seymour Hoffman and widow Portman.

It's no real surprise that Inman dies at the end as soon as he comes back into Ada's arms (but not before fathering her child), because it's almost a staple for Minghella, but he has a good eye for the details opf the ruggedness of the period and the beauty in a love story.

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