“WINTER PASSING”— Looking and Finding

“Winter Passing”

Looking and Finding

Amos Lassen

Struggling New York actress Reese Holden (Zooey Deschanel) is given an offer she can hardly refuse: Lori Lansky (Amy Madigan), a book editor, wants to give her $100,000 for the letters between her Pulitzer Prize winning father, Don Holden (Ed Harris), and her recently deceased, by suicide, mother. She is unsure about what to do and goes back home to find the letters before she Arriving at her father’s house Reese is shocked when is greeted by Corbitt (Will Ferrell), a stranger and an aspiring rock wannabe who has taken up residence in the Holden home. Don, it seems, is more comfortable living in a shed out back. Then Reese meets Shelly (Amelia Warner), a former student of Don’s who also is living there. The film is really about Reese ending her self-imposed estrangement with her father and other familial problems.

We never get to like any of the characters. They are all so self-absorbed – Reese with her anger over being overlooked as a child by her intelligentsia parents; Don over the loss of his wife (something that he was responsible for over the years); Corbitt with his rock star aspirations but has trouble playing music and singing  and, Shelly’s worship of Don.

Zooey Deschanel is so morose as Reese and Ed Harris never arises above being  two-dimensional as the genius father who suffers from the demons of his past, loosing himself in the bottle. I simply was unable to care about him. First-time writer-director Adam Rapp has made a film that feels more like a school project than feature debut.

A feeling of depression hangs over the film making it a glum family drama. It is the familiar story of an embittered child’s homecoming and confrontation with a parent. Reese has not been home in six years and she really comes to get the letters that were part of the estate that her mother left to her. Reese works as a bartender and has a cocaine habit and she has a chip on her shoulder. Ms. Deschanel’s brave, unsympathetic performance is quite boring. Her father, Don Holden was  once a flaming neo-Marxist radical and is a literary legend whose 1960’s novel “People’s Park” became a modern classic. Her mother wrote high-toned literary romances.

Suffering from writer’s block, Don, who is depressed a brooding, stringy-haired eccentric. When Reese arrives in Michigan and has to prove her identity to gain entry to the house, the movie formally begins. There is one scene that is sincerely moving and that is when Reese comes upon her father as he is weeping uncontrollably. We learn that Reese didn’t attend her mother’s funeral for a number of reasons, one of them being “she treated me like a mild curiosity all my life” and another being that she has little desire to see her father.

Reese’s presence seems to awaken him, if only to allow him to let go. Shelly confides in Reese that her father is still writing, but slowly. I realize that in many ways this sounds like a negative review but it is not. This is the kind of film you must be prepared to see because it is depressing yet because it is depressing, it is very real.

Bonus Materials

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature 
  • Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Surround
  • English and Spanish Subtitles
  • Behind the Scenes Featurette
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

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