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

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Since its true story is still so timely after some 150 years, we can forgive...

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

This reunion of actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg feels like a natural successor...

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Ransom Riggs' bestselling novel is appropriately adapted into a movie by Tim Burton, the gothic...

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Advertisement
Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

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.