HEAD IN THE CLOUDS is a sweeping romantic drama set in 1930's England, Paris, and Spain. Gilda Bessé shares her Paris apartment with an Irish schoolteacher, Guy Malyon, and Mia, a refugee ... See full summary »
This Civil War saga addresses romance, friendship, and the ravages of war--both in the field and on the home front. Captures the horrors of war for both those fighting it, and for those left behind. This is a tale of hope, longing, redemption, second chances, and faith. Written by
The Appalachian Mountains of the Eastern United States have no jagged peaks. The mountains shown are Romanian. See more »
Dear Mr. Inman, I began by counting the days, then the months. I don't count on anything anymore except the hope that you will return, and the silent fear that in the years since we saw each other, this war, this awful war, will have changed us both beyond all reckoning.
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Worth watching even if "brought to you by Mattel."
There are a couple of things wrong with this episodic, rather sweeping film, but not enough to destroy it. Fortunately, the good outweighs the bad enough to make it worthwhile viewing. Law plays a shy, but thoughtful young man in Cold Mountain, NC. When the local minister's daughter (Kidman) moves to town, he is immediately taken with her and they share a few very brief, very stifled moments (including an impromptu kiss) before he leaves to fight in the Civil War. (An opening battle scene is so intense that the impact of it literally tears the clothes off one participant!) As they each experience great change, disappointment and destruction, it is their longing for each other that keeps them going. He can't wait to get back to her and she can't wait for him to come back. As Law treks across the southeastern coast, he comes upon a wide variety of opponents and allies. These are all played with great skill by a terrific gallery of solid, semi-name actors (Hoffman, Ribisi, Portman, Atkins, etc......) Meanwhile, Kidman faces the end of her gentle existence and almost existence itself until a scrappy, brassy local girl steps in to rescue her. Zellweger plays this feisty, mouthy girl, using every ounce of her acting prowess. The pair must fend off an opportunistic home guardsman played by a slimy Winstone. The film lurches forward with the all-important reunion moment dangling in front of the viewers like a carrot on a stick. It is solely due to the acting talent and intense chemistry of the stars and not the sketchy, spotty script that this moment carries any dramatic weight at all. Somehow, Law and Kidman manage the impossible, which is to create a romance and desire for one another that is never properly developed on the screen. They are forced to create everything through their expressions and body language and do just that. As good as they are, they are almost completely overtaken by the surprisingly wondrous and intriguing work of Zellweger. Her welcome dash of vinegar and bluntness is a perfect counterpoint for the dewy and sensitive lovers. Also, of particular note is another surprise - the downright striking job that Portman does as a lonely widow and mother. She outdoes herself in this brief role. As a matter of fact, nearly every performance in the film is excellent. The one exception is the horribly anachronistic and inexplicable presence of the peroxide blonde henchman to Winstone. His punk-rock, eyelinered look and shopping-mall line delivery remove the viewer from the already tenuous time period whenever he's on screen. (And is it ever stated why someone his age isn't IN the war??) That's one other problem. There is very little period feel to this film. It always seems like the actors are playing with clothes they found at Western Costume with their make up done by Ben Nye. Kidman's hair, while lovely, is absolutely ridiculous. It distracts from and detracts from scenes very often. Ditto her make up. One key scene near the end is a close up and her heavy mascara and shadow grey/purple eyeshadow (masterfully applied by those Hollywood wizards) turn what should have been an agonizing emotional moment into "Barbie Does the Civil War". Zellweger does better in the make-up department, though her chemically-whitened teeth do not go very far in suggesting her character's background. Her deliberately tousled hair is also a problem at times, but nowhere near the level of Kidman's. These are quibbles in light of the bigger problem which is an overriding predictability. Even to one who has never read the book, there is no doubt as to the ending of the film. There is very little room for surprise and what there is of that is telegraphed again and again. So the audience is left watching a 2-1/2 hour film with a foregone conclusion. (And this sometimes meandering work was originally FIVE hours long!) The amount of footage left on the cutting room floor makes for some uncomfortable continuity (such as when a character is tortured and watches 3 family members slaughtered and is next seen smilingly dancing a Christmas jig!) Nevertheless, the romance and beauty of the film still delivers and there is no doubt that Kidman is a MOVIE STAR. She glows and glistens and has every accommodation made to her. Even her old riding coat looks runway perfect. Law is achingly beautiful in the early scenes, but delivers a sincere, dedicated performance in spite of his physical features (which are all but buried as it wears on.)
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