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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the movie has very graphic battle violence, with many characters wounded and killed. There are explicit sexual references and situations, including nudity, prostitution, and attempted rape. Characters engage in a swindle involving seduction and betrayal, with nudity and graphic references. One character shows strong values by turning down sexual offers so that he can remain faithful to the woman he loves. Characters use strong language.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Inman (Jude Law), a wounded Confederate soldier, walks away from the hospital to return to his home and to his love, Ada (Nicole Kidman). Ada was raised by her minister father (Donald Sutherland) for a life of refinement and noblesse oblige, is struggling to maintain her father's farm after his death, with the help of Ruby (Renee Zellweger). But the war is getting closer to them. Soldiers from both sides cover the countryside, the Confederates looking for deserters, the Union looking for provisions, both taking whatever they can. Inman walks back to Cold Mountain, encountering an Odyssey-like assortment of characters and adventures, including a minister who is attempting to murder the slave he got pregnant (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a lonely young mother (Natalie Portman), and a man who is less friendly than he seems. Ada is faced with challenges at home as she and Ruby try to work the farm and stay out of the way of the trouble that seems to be coming toward them from every direction. Ruby's estranged father (Brendan Gleeson), now a musician, shows up, and she must decide whether she can trust him.
Is it any good?
COLD MOUNTAIN benefits from outstanding performances by the lead actors and a stunning range of first-rate performers in supporting roles, including Portman, Kathy Baker, and Giovanni Ribisi. The terrain of Romania, standing in for the 19th century South, is beautifully evocative, as is the splendid soundtrack, assembled by O Brother Where Art Thou's T-Bone Burnett and featuring traditional works performed by White Stripes' Jack White. But, as often happens in the adaptation of literary works, without the balance of the book's poetic language, the images tend to overwhelm the subtle issues it raises about great and small conflicts.
Kidman's radiant loveliness persuades viewers that a man could develop a lifetime of devotion after one kiss, but it would be easier to believe her experience of hardship and growth if that radiance dimmed just a little now and then. Zellweger brings some spunk to a role that is reduced to a colorful sidekick that is more Andy Devine than Eve Arden. This is a thoughtful, intelligent film with lovely performances and heartbreaking themes, but like its main characters, it has great difficulty reaching the conclusion it aspires to.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the perspective of this movie, sympathetic to the point of view of the deserter and putting a lot of emphasis on the challenges of the people who were not fighting the battles, differs from many stories set in wartime. What does that say about that era and ours? How does that relate to the description of what happens when the bird eats a seed? Ruby and Ada were both raised by their fathers. Which father prepared his daughter best for what she would have to do? What do each of the people Inman meets on his way home add to the story? If the sky were to fall down tomorrow, what would you want to make sure you said today?
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