This beautiful, cinematic adaptation of Charles Frazier’s novel is masterfully brought to life by Minghella, who also wrote the screenplay.
My last Civil War stop for the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film following my screening of The Red Badge of Courage is by turns brutal, moving, and gorgeously photographed.
Nicole Kidman is Ada Monroe, a reverend’s (Donald Sutherland) daughter who becomes the heart and soul of a Confederate soldier, WP Inman (Jude Law). Their burgeoning relationship is ruptured and threatened by the outbreak of war.
While Inman tries to recover from wounds we hear how Ada has spent the three years since they last saw one another. The war tears at then in different ways but leaves then both wounded as tolls and injuries occur for both of them.
Renee Zellweger puts in an enjoyable turn as Ruby who arrives at Ada’s home to help her work the fields and animals.
At Ada’s request Inman deserts and tries to make his way home to her, her life, his and the South’s all falling apart at the same time, with only the hope of being reunited keeping the two of them going.
Ada, under Ruby’s tutelage learns to become a woman instead of a lady, able to live and work and Inman sees the folly of man and the stupidity of war.
A fantastic supporting cast including Philip Seynour Hoffman, Jena Malone, Giovanni Ribisi, Kathy Baker, Brendan Gleeson, Ray Winstone, Natalie Portman, Cillian Murphy, Jack White and Emily Deschanel bring the world to life in a poetic and beautiful way.
While, again, not necessarily a war film per se, it uses the backdrop of the Civil War to set a gorgeous, and poignant love story at play, as both Inman and Ada struggle to find their way back to each other, surmounting the odds, and doing all they can to be true to one another, despite only having stolen a few moments together in the first place.
I love the look of this film, it is gorgeous to watch, Minghella and his crew crafted a visually emotional film, and it is an experience to watch.
It is fascinating to me that there were just as many recommendations to watch that sided with the Confederacy, or at least used the South as a backdrop. I hazard to think that perhaps some are romanticizing that side of the conflict, but, as in all war, there are heroes, villains and humans on all sides.
The casting in this film is amazing, and it’s unusual to see a film like this where top name actors are quite happy to take smaller roles in a film just to be involved with it. In fact they make it stronger, adding strength to an already powerful story.
I rather enjoyed revisiting this one. Next up, we plunge back into the family genre!