Cold Mountain ★★½

Nicole Kidman is a glamorous supermodel inexplicably thrown into the middle of an Anthony Minghella Civil War variant on The Odyssey -- from Charles Frazier's novel -- that uses Romania as an all too obvious stand-in for Appalachia. Its fable-like premise is intriguing during the first act but takes a sharp turn toward the overly literal with the Sirens sequence then falls completely apart at the halfway point, redeemed strictly by some attractive cinematography, but all it really amounts to is a parade of good-looking people play-acting (headed by Kidman and Jude Law, their scenes together resembling the cover of a cheap paperback) plus a parade of half-assed cameos. Very much the dispiriting stereotype of early '00s Miramax Oscar bait, and a huge disappointment to me as I harbored some hope this Best Supporting Actress project might temporarily not be a dire shitshow*. (Renee Zellweger only does the most obvious shit with her stock "lovably eccentric" caricature and is no more able to rise above this telegraphed, overly slick material than anyone else.)

* So far Key Largo is the only really worthwhile movie I've come across while doing this, not counting rewatches of good stuff I'd already seen.

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