|Director: Anthony Minghella
Stars: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Rene Zellwegger, Philip Seymore Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Giovanni Ribisi, Donald Sutherland
|It's very interesting that a movie so well groomed for the Oscars was snubbed. It had the right forumula: An all star cast, an epic period piece, triumph of the human spirit and tragedy. And while overlooked, it is still a film worth looking at.
It begins with the beginning of the Civil War, where we were at battle with ourselves. Young boys were sent off, women had to make due without their men to provide and protect. And it was not uncommon that tragedy befell these women and their families with rapes, robberies and murder and they had to do whatever they could to fight and survive. Kidman plays Ada Monroe, a young well to do socialite who becomes smitten with a shy Southern working man named Inman. They have a brief courtship when war is announced and he joins along with his friends in joining the ranks as a confederate soldier. He goes away and she hopes for his return. In the meantime her father dies leaving her alone, she is incapable of taking care of herself. Her money begins to dry up and she has absolutely no skills in knowing how to survive on her own.
A neighbor see's her stubborness in accepting help and sends Ruby (Zellwegger), a local woman who is far from being a lady. She is every bit capable of being independent and prides herself on it. She teaches Ada how to farm the land, care for the livestock and more importantly - a little horse sense. She has learned to fend for herself because of her rough childhood with her drunken abusive father. Ada finds a companion, and begins to find out that she is capable of more than what society dictates.
|In the meantime, Inman grows weary of this long war and home seems so far away. His memory of Ada keeps him going while all around him he see's death. There's a great moment in the battlefield when he looks around at the fighting and bloodshed that seems so chaotic and meaningless. All these boys giving up their lives and lying in the mud and none of it makes sense when you know each of them have hopes, dreams, and families. Inman goes AWOL, returning home knowing that he could be shot or hung for treason. He has lost himself in this war. Along the way he meets up with a fallen preacher, yes there are a few humerous moments in this movie.|
|Every turn of the road leads to danger as it seems life throws itself in his path to stop him from going home, there are situations where he seems lucky as others around him were not. And during one moment when he is wounded, an old woman takes him in and offers him medicine. There's really great scene in the movie that I loved. Where the old woman becomes a teacher, through her life's experiences I suppose where she seems to sum it all up best in a moment. She cradles a white goat kid in her arms and gently strokes his soft head as she explains how everything in life has it's purpose. One thing has to die for another to live, it's all a chain that keeps life going. It's humorous to hear her rough explaination that even bird shit has a purpose. She expresses her affection for the goat and his companionship and he closes his sweet eyes trustingly as she cuts his throat. In order for Inman to recover and continue on his journey, wherever that may lead, she must give him what food she can. It's a moment I reflected on because it really depicted the value of life - that sacrifices must be made, death must be accepted as a part of life. It often doesn't seem fair why bad things happen, why wars must be fought, why young boys must die. But it is a cycle of life in that today's struggles may help better the future of our children. It makes us stronger and tests us, it is only from tragedy that we discover who we really are and what we are capable of.
This was a very moving picture, well filmed albiet some of the dialogue became a little harlequin at times. This really was Zellwegger's movie, with a few suprising cameo's. It isn't just about lost love, but finding it when it's least expected.