After being gravely wounded at the Siege of Petersburg, a southern farmhand abandons the hopeless Confederate cause and begins a perilous trek back home to North Carolina to reunite with his woman, a beautiful preachers daughter tending the land only with the help of a pugnacious friend. "Cold Mountain" is sumptuous film that captures the cruelty and bleakness of war, on several fronts, as well as the longing for love, and places them against the beautiful backdrop of the south. Many have complained that the film keeps its stars apart for too much of the film, but this provides director Anthony Minghella the opportunity to make not one, but two great films: one showing the arduous life of a rebel soldier then deserter, and the other depicting life on the homestead, and the hardships faced by those beset by the vultures that times of war bring. Adapted from Charles Frazier's novel and featuring an absolutely stunning palette (much of which was shot in Romania) including the extraordinary opening battle sequence, the film is a wonder on several different levels. Jude Law and Nicole Kidman are excellent in the leads and Renee Zellwegger turns in a winning, if somewhat over the top performance in her Oscar winning role. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Giovanni Ribisi, Natalie Portman, and Ray Winstone are memorable in supporting roles, and the soundtrack is likewise excellent featuring Alison Krauss and Jack White, the latter of whom appears in the film. The late Minghella had a gift for crafting superior romances that transcended the soppy muck we've been accustomed too. "Cold Mountain" is a transcendent, heart rending film that functions superbly on so many different levels.