Picks and Pans Review: Cold Mountain

updated 12/22/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/22/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Renée Zellweger

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War leaves no one unaffected, not then, not now. Watching this beautifully told tale about the travails of an injured Confederate deserter (Law) and the sweetheart (Kidman) he's trying to get home to late in the Civil War, one can't help but think of the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan today and the loved ones waiting for them here. Then, and now, will each find the other changed when—and if—they reunite? Such thoughts add even greater poignancy to director-writer Anthony Minghella's admirably adept adaptation of Charles Frazier's Homeric novel. Law perfectly underplays the soldier who has seen enough of war, Kidman artfully shades her turn as a patrician compelled to learn practical skills, and a spunky Zellweger is both forceful and funny as a can-do handywoman who saves Kidman's farm. (R)

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