"This is just yet another version of the Greek tragedy the Odyssey, this time set in Civil War era North Carolina," that was my thought, about half way through Anthony Minghella's "Cold Mountain." Journeying soldier Inman (Odysseus) had just about to enter the home of the moonshine swilling Junior, his very forward wife and her shameless sisters when an image of the enticing-yet-deadly sirens came to mind, and I was stuck with the similarities for the remainder of the movie.
A revamping of a story as old as time: man fights obstacles and the odds to travel the long road home to his love. The ending was a twist, but one not entirely unexpected. By that point in the movie I had a good grasp of the mostly obvious foreshadowing. Though the theme of the barbarities occurring in the South at he time is moving, the screenplay, an adaptation by Mr. Minghella of the book by Charles Frazier, seemed otherwise predictable, somewhat bland. One can expect the next attack or backstabbing to occur precisely when it should to make the work "dramatic", and there is a bounty of wordy, superficial mourning narration about separated love from the two lead characters.
So many talented actors had roles in this movie, it's unfortunate the only two with the most opportunity to add depth and heart to their characters did little, besides baring some posterior flesh, to draw the audience in. The movie centers on Jude Law as W.P. Inman, "Inman" to his friends, and his recently acquired love interest Ada Monroe (Nicole Kidman). The two's newly developed, and by newly I mean within a dozen or so words, love interest is torn apart as the South declares Recession, and recently enlisted Inman is off to war. Ada's ailing preacher father (Donald Sutherland) dies soon after, and she, like many of the other southern belles of the time, is left to learn to fend for herself.
Ada learns to farm and defend herself from chickens with the help of smart-mouthed Ruby Thewes, played by Renee Zellweger, who manages to add a few moments of comic relief to this otherwise dreary film.