…and the quest to see everything

Chick Flick Remix: Cold Mountain

ph. Miramax

In order to get a newer perspective in a repeated viewing of the Civil War romance film, Anthony Minghella’s Cold Mountain – dubbed in French, for some reason – I decided to read the book. So if you read any of my poetic tweets that was author Charles Frazier and not me. The time span between my rewatch of the film and the time when I read the book’s last word was less than six weeks, so remind me never to do such a thing again.

This film adaptation sticks to the story’s general idea but there are inevitable scenes and themes in the film that aren’t in the novel, which doesn’t lessen the film, mind you. I noticed that twice in the film, Ruby Thewes (Renée Zellweger) and Ada Monroe (Nicole Kidman) turn away men like Strobrod (Brendan Gleeson) and Inman and tell them to go back where they came from, those men coincidentally are ones closest to them.

If anyone out there does screenings of older movies and sets them to different soundtracks, someone should use this film while playing Fleet Foxes‘ first songs. It’s better than the Enya-like OST. It somehow goes well with the film’s enthralling cinematography that takes advantage of nature’s changing deep and bright colours, from green to brown to white, adding to the film’s region-specific lyricism.

Bringing up a band who became famous half a decade after a movie with, theoretically, the same qualities reinforces my strange feeling that Weinstein made this movie too early, that other actors could have played Ada and Ruby (arguably interchangeable), Inman and Sara (Natalie Portman) competently. This strange feeling also weaves into the biggest criticism against the film, that the Miramax’s star casting got talent from the four corners of the English-speaking world, only for the inconsistencies in some of those actors’ Southern accents to stick out like sore thumbs.

But this casting still works, as Kidman brings her signature cold-hot self-imposed repression perfectly describes Ada – both are age-appropriate as ‘spinsters’ and romantic leading ladies. Law is small and exhausted as Inman would be. I imagined for Ruby as someone with a deeper voice than Zellweger, but she portrays Ruby as childlike, working for the character’s stunted younger years. This movie is also my introduction to Gleeson and Ray Winstone, playing the villanous Teague, the two will play mirrored opposites of each other or even fighting brothers, if there isn’t already a movie just like that hiding between my gaps of movie knowledge.

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2 responses

  1. A post on COLD MOUNTAIN always makes me happy. What annoys me about criticism against this is that loads of great classics have dubious accents, so clearly it’s not the accents that they have issues with when the criticise the movie. I read the novel some time after and by then I was too invested in the film to have issues with the changes. I still think the cast is excellent, and Nicole is terribly underrated in it.

    August 18, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    • I remember the controversy when Julia Roberts was going to play another Southerner in Charlie Wilson’s War. Someone at Gawker commented that the Scarlett O’Hara accent is as old as movies. (Which is funny because Julia’s from Georgia, worked hard to rid herself of the accent and disowned by the South). I still totally understand the hate especially if it comes from the region that the film is trying to represent e.g. a friend from Rhode Island who knows that the Peter Griffin accent is a fallacy. Despite the digressions, I agree with you about the cast.

      August 19, 2011 at 4:13 am

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