Winter Solstice

"Weak"

Winter Solstice Review


The plot in Winter Solstice is more of a subplot, never mind a feature length movie. And that's one of the many problems in writer/director Josh Sternfeld's sluggish account of a New Jersey family under stress.

Anthony LaPaglia plays Jim Winters, a widower living with his two sons, Gabe (Aaron Stanford), a hard-working young man; and Pete (Mark Webber), a teenager who can't get his act together. The three are a tight unit, but the bond between them strains when Gabe suddenly announces he's moving to Florida and Pete faces yet another stint at summer school.

Also thrown into the mix is a new neighbor, a fortysomething single played by Allison Janney, whom Jim, still living with the memory of his dead wife, gets to know better; and Pete's with-it summer school teacher (a misused Ron Livingston), who appears to have wandered in from the set of Boston Public.

Stuck in the same sleepy town -- Jim refers to the Dairy Queen as the town's "community center" -- the talented cast acts as if they're stuck in a 93-minute-long detention. The minimalist dialogue is supposed to show that communication is both understood and hard to come by in the Winters' household, but Sternfeld overstresses this awkward balance -- Jim can speak to his sons casually, but not when serious matters arise; Gabe's parting with his Liv Tyler clone of a girlfriend (Michelle Monaghan) is more difficult than expected; Pete can't talk to anybody -- so the movie feels tiresome within 30 minutes. No one in this town appears comfortable making more than a few terse comments. You can certainly understand why Gabe wants to bolt for the sunnier climes of Florida, even though he doesn't have a plan.

Sternfeld is also adrift. The last couple of years have seen an influx of movies mixed with small-town despair and youthful boredom (Garden State, All the Real Girls, Raising Victor Vargas, etc.). Regardless of quality, those movies had a distinctive style, a narrative viewpoint. Sternfeld's choice is to do nothing. He incorrectly assumes that the small-town locale (we get lots of shots of that) and the characters' world-weary gloominess can coast the movie toward respectability and serve as an explanation to everyone's problems, when its "this is real life" feel is really obvious, really grating, and really unoriginal. And it's a cop out, an easy way to justify an artistic style, while not committing effort to anything else. The case that we're supposed to observe what's onscreen is moot: We've seen the same material in umpteen other films, and we've learned everything about the characters during the first third of the movie.

I'm not suggesting that Sternfeld should employ the same razzle dazzle editing and camera work Zach Braff used in Garden State, but he has to justify why we should invest our time in Jim's family and their problems. What's onscreen doesn't help. From a distance, middle class woes may make for credible, authentic filmmaking. It's posing when little effort is invested into the concept.



Winter Solstice

Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 24th November 2005

Box Office USA: $0.2M

Distributed by: Paramount Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Fresh: 48 Rotten: 32

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jim Winters, as Gabe Winters, as Pete Winters, as Molly Ripkin, as Stacey

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

This closing chapter of the First Class trilogy falls into the same trap as The...

Sing Street Movie Review

Sing Street Movie Review

A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical...

Departure Movie Review

Departure Movie Review

Complex, dark and very moving, this British drama never makes things easy for the audience,...

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Richard Linklater loosely follows on from two of his most acclaimed films with this lively...

Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

John le Carre's novel is adapted with plenty of inventive style into a remarkably personal...

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

There's nothing particularly memorable about this frantic animated romp, which adapts the iconic phone-app game...

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

While it's amusing and sometimes very funny, there's an air of desperation about this sequel...

Advertisement
Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Although this comedy-drama seems to have been written specifically to give Meryl Streep a chance...

I Saw the Light Movie Review

I Saw the Light Movie Review

Writer-director Marc Abraham gets ambitious with this biopic about iconic country music star Hank Williams,...

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

After the formulaic thrills of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, Marvel's Avengers were...

Son of Saul Movie Review

Son of Saul Movie Review

From Hungary, this year's Oscar-winning foreign film is a remarkably fresh take on the Holocaust...

Demolition Movie Review

Demolition Movie Review

With its darkly emotive themes and brittle humour, this well-made drama by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas...

Bastille Day Movie Review

Bastille Day Movie Review

An attempt to muscle in on Luc Besson's Taken-style of thriller, this is an odd...

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Expectations are a problem with this year's Secret Cinema event. After the jaw-dropping, goosebump-inducing surprises...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.