Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 2003. Miramax, Bona Fide Productions, Castel Film Romania, Cattleya. Screenplay by Anthony Minghella, based on the book by Charles Frazier. Cinematography by John Seale. Produced by Albert Berger, William Horberg, Sydney Pollack, Ron Yerxa. Music by Gabriel Yared. Production Design by Dante Ferretti. Costume Design by Carlo Poggioli, Ann Roth. Film Editing by Walter Murch. Academy Awards 2003. Golden Globe Awards 2003. National Board of Review Awards 2003. Online Film Critics Awards 2003. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2003.
During the civil war, a soldier (Jude Law) reads a letter from the woman waiting for him (Nicole Kidman) back home and decides to leave the battlefield and head back towards her. Facing the possibility of being punished as a deserter, Law traverses the harsh climate of the Appalachians, receiving kindness from strangers along the way in his determination to see his lady love, a woman he hardly knew before he left for battle full of Southern pride. Meanwhile, Kidman is left to fend for herself when her father (Donald Sutherland) dies, leaving her at the mercy of her neighbours’ kindness and the threat of the captain of the Home Guard (Ray Winstone) who is anxious to marry her and take her farm. This overlong but lush, beautifully filmed epic receives top-drawer treatment from director Anthony Minghella, who has the rare ability of making films that are always classy and highly-pedigreed but at the same time feel cutting edge and honest. Like his English Patient, this too is a very ‘intimate epic’, plus there’s a soundtrack jammed full of beautiful bluegrass music, compiled and produced by O Brother, Where Art Thou‘s T-Bone Burnett and featuring two new compositions by Elvis Costello and Sting and performed by Alison Krauss. What really makes it come alive amid the only somewhat amusing romance and endless warfare is the arrival of Renee Zellweger as Ruby, a feisty, plucky Southern gal who shows up at Kidman’s farm and helps her put it in order and protect it from anyone who would take it from her.