USA, Anthony Minghella (2003)
I have a new personal classification of film, and Cold Mountain has the proud distinction of being the first movie to fall under this heading. I’m calling it a “check mark movie.” There are times after a movie when I can be heard upon leaving the theatre to say, “Well, I can cross THAT one off the list.”
I keep in my head a constantly updated list of current theatrical films I want to be sure to see. Sometimes the list includes films I know I’m not necessarily going to like, but I feel are important enough to see—or demand to be seen—on the big screen. The last Lord of the Rings and Matrix movies were like that (both of which I saw—one I liked, and one I didn’t) as was The Last Samurai (which I missed.) Cold Mountain was just such a film; it called for the big sound and screen of a theatre to get the full impact. I wasn’t, however, what you’d call eager to see it, especially after I heard it was nearly three…hours…long. There were battles in the Civil War that were shorter than this movie, and the movie itself seemed longer than the entire war.
Cold Mountain had the unexpected effect of making me think that Renee Zellweger was actually a good actress, which I’m not grateful for at all. I think part of the reason she’s been singled out for awards is merely the fact that, compared to ice queen Nicole (whom I usually like quite a bit) and the rest of the sleepy movie, Renee stands out because she’s got a spark of personality and speaks in an accent, neither of which anyone else in the film seems to have.
Yes, I read the book, but I wasn’t a huge fan, so my expectation for the movie wasn’t too high. I’d heard the movie buzz from the press and friends, which mostly placed Cold Mountain squarely in the middle between a thumbs up and a thumbs down, so again, I didn’t expect too much. When it was over, and the lights came up, (after spending the final twenty minutes of the film wondering “When, oh when, is this going to end?”) all I could think was, “Well, I can check that movie off the list.”
Here’s the Gist: Excuse the pun, but it left me cold. [**]