Anthony Mingheller's astounding film cleverly sweeps the audience into the horrors of war at its beginning. He then introduces his two principle characters who would gradually move the audience into their world wrought by war and hardship. We watch as the characters begin to unravel their internal tortures and their need to subdue their isolation to face their regrets and hope for the future. This is an absolutely fabulous movie that portrays the stunning performances of its stellar cast of actors and the overwhelming raw landscapes that are kept in sync with their events and moods. Observe the stages of emotional changes in the characters. So amazingly and magnificently captured at different camera angles, from scene to scene against the cold, mountainous countryside!
This film isn't throwing off longwinded dialogue and lengthy physical encounters between Jude Law's Inman and Nicole Kidman's Ada to reveal the meeting of two souls searching for a meaningful existence. Yep, it's that brief and silent stare of Inman as he confronts the graciously low-keyed, prim and proper Ada that explicitly puts their sensory awareness of each other so powerfully on screen. As the events flow, I was completely mesmerized by the Inman character watching him transcend to his sense of isolation and his developing disillusion with his world. On the other hand, I couldn't take my eyes off the immaculately well-bred and gorgeous Ada as she succumbs into a scrawny hapless damsel in complete distress. It's fascinating to watch the couple adapt to situations beyond their control and to study the emotional and behavioral attitudes of two human beings altering at such opposing magnitude as a result of one war. Observe how the once popular Inman slips into desolation in the battlefield, becoming even more tormented from his world as he meets up with some very strange characters. Will he ever find solace with these characters, or with Ada at the end? Will Ada, while feeling alienated from her new abode, at the beginning of the film and with the death of her father, be able to battle her insecurity to become spiritually enlightened and physically capable with the help of her new acquaintances? Is she able to embraces what the farmland has to offer her? And will Inman be capable of escaping what the gruesome battlefield has come to mean to him? This film lays out an enormous ground for the examination of the effects a war on different individuals.
The film continues to remind the audience that Ada and Inman are bound together by their haunting memories of one another. That, indeed, is beautifully captured by the expressions on Law and Kidman's faces. The symbolisms, throughout the film, are plentiful and brilliantly ascribed, allowing the audience to join the dots to the destinies of the couple. Even crows, clearly suggesting doom and destruction, never fail to demonstrate the dark instincts that trouble a man's soul. And those women Inman meets in his journey seem to trigger the expectation of the audience to see him drawing closer to the woman he loves and to home. Even these characters, encountered by Inman, provide a picture of how different people react to the war. But will war ultimately bring peace and safety to its protagonists? This film is a masterpiece that will provide much food for thought.
Renee Zwellweger is phenomenal in her boisterously loud 'Ruby' role. She brings another aspect of the American woman that's so different in breeding from Kidman's Ada. Both are educated in their different cultural way of life. What can Ada learn from Ruby, the frontier woman who sees the 'hands and knees' toiling as the only way of survival in her community? Zwellweger provides the comic relief that's much needed for this powerfully intense film. She's superb in her role as the beacon of strength and hope for injecting a meaningful existence of living. Unlike the soldiers or the hypocritical Home Guard authorities that use guns to destroy their enemies, Ruby uses her hands-on skills to beat the odds of survival. It's uncannily delightful to watch her interacting with Kidman's character. She, Law and Kidman are definitely worthy of being recipients of the Oscar statuettes. They exhibit their superb non-stop performing talents in this film with their onscreen appearances. The Q&A session with Brendon Gleeson (who plays Ruby's father), has prompted me to want to go see this movie again - to watch closely how the strength of the film's womenfolk can make a difference to the human beings' survival instincts. I want to study again how hellish wars are for destroying and crippling, not only the physical, but the mental aspects of the masculine race. And Gleeson does drive home an interesting question: When these mountain folks `volunteer' to fight a war, how come they should be penalized as deserters if they were to decide to opt out of it?
This film is a MUST-SEE. It's beautifully crafted, assembled, and absolutely mesmerizing in all aspects of filmmaking techniques and style. The music score and soundtracks are so appropriate locked into the events and the moods of the characters. And the film's title? It does project its allegorical appeal.