- Movie Rating -

Winter Passing (2005)

| November 16, 2005 | 0 Comments

I have a great affection for movies that zero in on a particular character’s eccentricities. Winter Passing is a movie heads in that direction and then doesn’t know what to do with it. We have the characters, they have goofy characteristics and it all just lays there flat. This is one of those slowly paced movies that always seems as if it is aiming at something deep and profound and never quite gets there.

The movie stars Zooey Dachenel – an actress that I normally like – as Reese Holden, the estranged daughter of a once famous novelist who became a teacher, then dropped out of sight and climbed inside a bottle. She doesn’t talk to her family anymore and moved away from Michigan to live in New York where she works as a bartender and part-time actress and fills the rest of her time with casual sex, booze, drugs and self-pity. Reese has a hateful manner with everyone that seems born out of insecurity. That might be endearing if it didn’t grow irritating to the point of being insufferable.

The movie opens with the information that Reese didn’t attend her mother’s funeral because “she treated me like a mild curiosity”. Reese couldn’t care less about her family until an editor named Lori Lansky (Amy Madigan) approaches her about acquiring some letters that were written back and forth between her father and her mother. Lansky will pay money for the letters and Reese, after pelting Ms. Lansky with insults and sarcasm, agrees because she needs the money.

So, Reese takes a trip back home by bus where she is surprised to find her father does not live in the old house but in a broken-down shack behind it. Her father Don (Ed Harris) is your average drunken writer, a recluse with long white hair who does cute, drunk, recluse things like moving the bedroom furniture out into the back yard. Every corner of the house is littered with so many piles of books that you can’t imagine that anyone has actually read all of them Also occupying the house is Corbit (Will Ferrell), Don’s bodyguard who asks for I.D. when Reese answers the door and later violently confiscates the camera of a visiting fan and exposes the film before giving it back. The fourth occupant is Shelly, a sweet-natured 23 year-old British women that cooks and cleans for Don and whom – naturally – Reese assumes he is sleeping with. She becomes the butt of most of Reese’s hateful comments.

Winter Passing has the potential to really be a great character study, but it is too busy being odd and quirky for its own sake. It is too slow and quiet to really gather any momentum. The characters are so busy being quirky that they never have time to emerge as living, breathing souls. With a cast that includes Zooey Daschenel, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan and Will Ferrell, you are fired up for something great but it never really gets there. It is like a great band took the stage but wouldn’t stop tuning their instruments and play.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2005) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy, Drama, Indie