Winter Passing Movie Review

It's been said that it's easier for a playwright to write a screenplay than vice versa. This has to do with the idea that playwriting is, at its core, a study in character and story above all other things. Most of the time, I agree with this statement: Tony Kushner wrote the scripts for Munich and the magnificent screen adaptation of his Angels in America and Tom Stoppard was a playwright and drama critic long before he wrote Brazil, Empire of the Sun, or Enigma. There are a few dozen more, and sometimes they make pretty excellent directors as well (David Mamet, Neil Labute). Adam Rapp's transition, however, isn't as smooth as you might hope.

Reese Holden (Zooey Deschanel) is just another actress trying to make it in New York City. She goes to auditions, works at a bar, and beds other struggling actors who she quickly runs away from the minute the deeds are done. There's one hitch: Reese's father happens to be Don Holden (Ed Harris), a famous writer who specialized in nightmarish scenarios about college students who go on murdering sprees. Reese is propositioned by a publishing agent (Amy Madigan) to go home and retrieve a box of love letters her mother left her and then sell it for publication. After a slight hesitancy, Reese takes the trip to Michigan to get the letters and is surprised when she finds her father living with two strangers. Corbit (Will Ferrell) works as Mr. Holden's personal assistant and Shelly (Amelia Warner) runs the house and cooks the meals. Reese slowly uncovers secrets about her mother's death and her father's neglect that are, to be honest, easy to figure out if you're really paying attention.

Rapp's plays, including Stone Cold Dead Serious and Faster (not so much Finer Noble Gases), have always existed in known confines but have found sharp, witty ways to elevate the characters and story above the fray. Winter Passing exists in a much known confine: quirky, troubled offspring returns home to figure self out by dealing with troubled past with parents. What's strange is that Rapp doesn't really cause any seizures in the formula besides some short retreats into snappy dialogue. Almost everything goes exactly where the audience expects, and to some degree wants, it to go. Aside from the few moments of witty dialogue, the language gets soggy and simplistic (not in the good way).

The actors push hard for the material, all of them obvious Rapp fans. Ferrell does his best work to date as Corbit, pulling back from the outrageousness of Old School and Anchorman, and Ed Harris solidifies that no matter what the movie, he is always welcome. Deschanel wobbles a bit in her role because she is given the task of carrying the film, being alone with brief interludes from Madigan for the first 20 or 30 minutes of the film. She's a strong actress (see: Almost Famous, All the Real Girls) but she hasn't had the experience yet to carry a show. Rapp's film suffers mainly from the fact that there's little action on the characters' parts to fix their lives and that all the conflict is very dull and never really reaches a natural climax (the arguable climax can be seen coming a mile away). Winter Passing gets by solely on the fact that there's enthusiasm in it, but that enthusiasm never reaches out to embrace the audience.

Cast & Crew

Director : Adam Rapp

Producer : P. Jennifer Dana, David Koplan

Comments

Winter Passing Rating

" Weak "

Rating: R, 2006

Advertisement

More Ed Harris

Planes: Fire & Rescue Movie Review

Despite the fact that this too-soon spin-off feels like a mere cash-in on the Disney Cars/Planes marketing machine, this sequel is actually a lot more...

A Week In Movies: Hudson Wows New York, Planes And Pudsey Premiere, Plus New Trailers For Cave, Knightley And Witherspoon

A sleek and sexy Kate Hudson wowed the red carpet at the New York premiere of her new film Wish I Was Here. She was...

'Planes: Fire & Rescue' Takes Flight And Builds on Shaky Original

It could be argued that Planes (2013) was one of the worst Disney movies of recent times. Sure, it was great for say, toddler, but...

A Week In Movies: Snowpiercer Premieres In L.A., Dustin Hoffman Films In London, New Trailers Promise Sci-Fi, Black Comedy And Comic-Book Action

Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, Alison Pill and John Cho were among the celebrities who turned out this week for the opening night of the Los...

Advertisement

Snowpiercer Trailer

In a post-apocalyptic world where a deadly ice age has taken over the Earth, there are only a few survivors, all of whom have taken...

Second Trailer for 'Planes: Fire And Rescue' Gives Us More Action [Trailer + Pictures]

In the first trailer for Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue, we got a brief introduction to the characters and premise of the sequel to 2013’s...

Planes: Fire And Rescue Trailer

Former cropduster plane turned racing sensation Dusty Crophopper overcame his crippling fear of heights during the events of 'Planes', but he's about to show even...

Gravity Movie Review

More like a 91-minute thrill-ride than an astronaut adventure movie, this tour de force throws us out into space without a safety line then thrills...

Advertisement