Charles Frazier’s historical novel won the 1977 National Book Award. The English Patient
writer-director Anthony Minghella now makes another Oscar bid with a stunningly photographed but far-from-compelling film adaptation that captures the horrors of war in graphic detail but fizzles as a love story. Inman (Jude Law) is a Confederate Civil War soldier who is wounded in battle, deserts and treks home to his beloved Ada (Nicole Kidman), with Romania substituting for rural North Carolina. Law interprets his laconic character so well that the lack of chemistry between Inman and Ada made me care very little if their romance was ever resurrected. Pout-prone Kidman plays every scene looking like she just stepped from a nearby makeup trailer, and Renée Zellweger, as a scrappy farmhand, looks like a Dogpatch refugee in search of a corncob pipe. The supporting cast in this relentlessly soft focus but not-for-the-squeamish tale includes Natalie Portman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Brendan Gleeson, Giovanni Ribisi, and Jack White from the band the White Stripes.