A Confederate soldier (Jude Law) leaves the battle lines of the Civil War to journey back to the woman he loves (Nicole Kidman), a woman he only knew for a few moments. Director Anthony Minghella’s adaptation of Charles Frazier’s popular novel, which is essentially a retelling of The Odyssey
set in Civil War times, is a nasty take on one of the ugliest times in America history. There are big surprises in the cast along the way (Natalie Portman and Philip Seymour Hoffman are superb in small roles), with Kidman and Law as the stable anchors. Renee Zellweger is a bit much as a frontier woman sent to help Kidman’s city dweller character in the running of her newly inherited farm. The film has some slow spots, but when it’s humming, it’s quite good. They’ll probably throw a bunch of Oscars at it.