Ah yes, it's the holiday season, when families go traveling, neighbors go caroling and Hollywood goes Oscar whoring. "Cold Mountain," a Civil War love epic directed by Anthony ("The English Patient") Minghella, will both appeal to Academy voters and spark the kind of "what to go see this weekend" arguments that couples get divorced over. All I can say to the husbands is: Win this argument at all costs.
Ada (Nicole Kidman) arrives in Cold Mountain, North Carolina, with her preacher father (Donald Sutherland) on the eve of the Civil War. She exchanges some awkward, love-sodden moments with Inman (Jude Law), but then war is declared and Inman is whisked off to fight it.
It turns out that war sucks. Inman decides it's not for him, embarks on a homeward odyssey and runs a gauntlet of Civil War horrors as the movie does its level best to kill, maim and rape its way to Oscar greatness. On the home front, Ada's father dies, leaving her in charge of the farm. She nearly starves to death until dirt-smeared mountain girl Ruby (Renée Zellweger) arrives to show her how to milk the pigs and skin the varmints and whatnot.
By the time Inman makes it home for his tepid kiss from Ada, moviegoers will be falling prey to Economy-Class Syndrome as blood clots form in their legs, break free and travel to their brains to grant them the sweet release of death. One just hopes this will happen before they realize they've watched a Civil War epic with no black characters in it. If there's an Oscar for bad melodrama, "Cold Mountain" is a lock.
To spread the word about this Cold Mountain review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.