Winter Solstice - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Winter Solstice Reviews

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puffchunk
Super Reviewer
February 10, 2008
Not very exciting, but a pretty accurate depiction of what a real persons life is like. And as such there was really no plot, or climax, or ending. Still somehow it wasn't boring, so they did something right.
Super Reviewer
½ May 5, 2007
Story about dealing with a loss in the family and the difficulties of parents understanding teens and vice versa. There is a certain slowness or lulling rhythm to the film
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ July 13, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]In "Winter Solstice", Jim Winters(Anthony LaPaglia) is a single father who owns his own landscaping business in a small town. His eldest son, Gabe(Aaron Stanford), works in a restaurant pretty much non-stop in an effort to save up as much money as he can before leaving for Tampa to work on a boat. In the process he would leave his loving girlfriend, Stacey(Michelle Monaghan), behind. Gabe's younger brother, Pete(Mark Webber), sporting an unfashionable looking hearing aid, is on the ten-year plan in high school and is set to go to summer school. Molly Ripken(Alison Janney) is a housesitter that moves in nearby...[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]In "Winter Solstice", not much happens.(I do not mind if a movie is slow, just as long as it is headed somewhere.) I know that in real life people are more likely to be hanging out at the local Dariy Queen than having life-changing events, but it does not make for compelling drama.[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]All of which is a shame because the movie wastes a fine cast including Anthony LaPaglia. Michelle Monaghan and Alison Janney brighten whatever room they are in. And Ron Livingston almost steals the movie playing a history teacher.[/font]
iLeo
Super Reviewer
December 8, 2007
A great film!
Very touching story about a widower and his two sons, and the struggle to have to overcome to get over the death of a wife and mother.
½ July 24, 2007
This movie moves along at a realistic pace and highlights the humanistic struggles of a family who's lives were forever changed with the loss of a loved one...
May 2, 2007
This slice of family life doesn't much live up to anything. Average performances weak script and no originality.
March 29, 2007
Seeing LaPaglia in this movie made me want to find more of his work. There was so much tention in this family, but the dialogue never became unrealistic.
½ November 4, 2006
Sad, but shows how life really is, and how the loss of a person in a family can change our lifes forever.
July 19, 2006
Winter Solstice -- :fresh:

Some people hate movies which have a very fast, if existent, resolution. I would disagree. I love a movie where you are expecting something to happen, or someone to get together with someone else, or what-have-you, and instead, you get a slow fade out to black. There is really nothing more satisfying then that sort of an ending. That sounds funny, but when you think about it, it is true for several reasons. To begin, it forces you to look back and consider what you have seen to figure out where you missed the beginning of the resolution. It makes a person go back and really think about what they have just seen. Also, it allows the viewer to draw some of his own conclusions. There is almost no better way to end a film.

This was done wonderfully in Josh Sternfeld?s Winter Solstice. This is the touching and realistic look at a father and his two sons in New Jersey, still coping with the death of their mother and wife. It is the story of how the three deal with their own feelings and issues, and with each other and those surrounding the family. The father, Anthony Lapagnia (Without a Trace) buries himself in his landscaping business, he youngest son, Mark Webber, becomes dispassionate about school and the family, and the eldest son, Aaron Stanford, decides to run from it all; even his girlfriend played by Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Thrown into the mix is new comer to the neighborhood, played by Allison Janney (West Wing).

While it seems like a fairly formulaic movie, it doesn?t end quite as one would guess. It incredibly well shot and directed, and the acting is phenomenal. If anything, the only real downfall was the lack of adequate screen time for the talented Janney and Monaghan. While the focus on the three men provides a very deep understanding and real look at their lives, the other actors, including Ron Livingston (Office Space) were certainly up to the task of taking on more.

Overall a very good movie. It isn?t the formulaic family drama with a twist that one would expect. I would definitely recommend renting it, although waiting for it on HBO is probably soon enough.
July 13, 2006
Well, when this DVD arrived from Blockbuster, I had hoped that this might be an engaging slice-o-life film.

Nothing could be further from the reality. This film was a snooze, period. Lackluster characters (but good acting) and a dull plot left me feeling at the end of the film as though I'd just wasted two hours of my life.

Worse yet, the first copy that came from BB Online was defective, so I wound up watching good portions of it again so I could get to the end of the flick.

Not recommended.
½ March 31, 2006
[b]Better Luck Tomorrow[/b], directed Justin Lin, is the story of a group of upper middle class Asian teens who are succesful academically and have a bright future ahead of them. However they get bored with life in suburbia and begin committing crimes. At first minor, they escalate as the group of friends become notorious, ultimately leading to a violent conclusion.

This film got surprisingly strong reviews, but I had difficulty making it through the entire film as it just felt so amatuerish. First, I could not relate to any of these characters. The high school scenes were textbook stale, showing nothing new. The characters, although asian, played more like spoiled high school boys, nothing signifcant about their culture or backgrounds to distinguish this group of teens at all. They were stereotypical white males, except they happened to be Asian. As for a crime drama? Not very good, despite the interesting premise. And the direction? Annoying is the best way I can describe it. The film so wants to be edgy, cool and hip, and Lin bombards us with modern music, speeded up violence, and other inneffective tools. But mostly this film is a bore because there isn't one character worth following. Bad film.

[b]Elizabethtown[/b], written and directed by Cameron Crowe, is another horrible mess. Orlando Bloom stars as Drew Baylor, a shoe designer who makes a huge mistake, forcing the recall of his design and costing his company milions of dollars. Having lost his job, Drew is set to commit suicide when his phone rings. His father had died, and Drew is asked by his mother (Susan Sarandon) to travel to Kentucky, where his father was visiting family, to retrieve the body. On the plane he meets Clare (Kirsten Dunst), an optimistic flight attendant who tries to cheer Drew up. Once in Elizabethtown, Drew meets his father's eccentric family and is torn on whether to respect their wishes for his father's burial there, or his mother's wishes that he be cremated and brought back home. Clare also reappears.

[i]Elizabethtown [/i]never really knows what it wants to be. A family drama? A romance? Crowe tries to force the two together without much success. The family drama wallows in silliness, it's rarely effective or moving, and the romance between Drew and Clare cannot be fully developed due to all of the distractions. I thought the Clare character had quite a bit of potential, and Kirsten Dunst is likable in this film, but Orlando Bloom wasn't a strong enough lead to make this mess work. A huge disappointment.

[b]Winter Solstice,[/b] directed by Josh Sternfeld, is another film that has received fairly positive reviews from most RT viewers. It's a family drama set in a small town. Jim (anthony LaPaglia) is a widower trying to raise his two teenage sons Gabe and Pete (Aaron Stanford and Mark Webber). Pete is unmotivated while Gabe is ready to leave the small town. Meanwhile Jim becomes interested in new neighbor Molly (Allison Janney).

[i]Winter Solstice [/i]feels like a made-for-television movie. It's an incredibly bland film with no standout performances. There isn't much character development, and seemingly little purpose to the film. I wasn't impressed.
½ December 4, 2005
[center][size=5][color=royalblue]Fever Pitch[/color][/size][/center]
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[center][size=3][color=#4169e1]This was a play by the book Rom-Com. But I enjoyed it very much. I thought Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon work will as the lovers. I would love to see to see them do another movie togther. I think there are some actors that just have that something when they are paired together. And I feel these two had that something. It was worth the watch.[/color][/size][/center]
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[center][size=5][color=#4169e1]The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants[/color][/size][/center]
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[center][size=3][color=#4169e1]I really loved this movie. Very well written and the actress were all good. I would say this would be a keeper for teen movie. I like to think this is a thinking teen movie. It wasn't fluff. It had some meat and bonds to it. It wasn't your noramal teen flick. And that's why I liked it. They need to make more of these types of movies. Well worth the rent and even to own.[/color][/size][/center]
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[center][size=5][color=#4169e1]Winter Solstice[/color][/size][/center]
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[center][size=3][color=#4169e1]First off I love Anthony LaPaglia. He is so over looked. I try to see everything he is in. [/color][/size][/center]
[center][size=3][color=#4169e1]What I loved about this movie. It was a quiet look at men and how the deal with things. Men are nothing like us ladies. They sit quietly with themselves or with their buddies. The deal with life differently than we ladies do. While we ladies talk each other's ears off and have a good cry. Men may say a few words and leave it at that. Or they get drunk and lash out. This movie deals with a widower and his two sons. It was a beautifully written. And I am glad I was able to rent it. It is a small quiet movie but worth finding and watching.[/color][/size][/center]
[center][size=3][color=#4169e1]Donna A.[/color][/size][/center]
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½ October 15, 2005
[b]Winter Solstice[/b] is a refreshing look at how a family of three has responded differently to grief, or rather how the amount of time it takes for them to go through that process differs. Jim Winters (Anthony LaPaglia), having lost his wife, is very afraid of unfamiliarty, in both meeting new people, and dealing with his sons as the grow and change. He takes great joy in his gardening; it's something over which he has complete control. He's expects his sons to fulfill their household responsibilities, but is largely passive because he doesn't know how to deal with things. This culminates in outburst of frustration that his sense of home is being disturbed.

Pete (Mark Webber) ,the younger son, enjoys and expects his autonomy, but at the same time is reliant on his father and older brother, even though he doesn't want to admit it. He likes doing his own thing, but is afraid of the unfamiliar as his father is. Instead of literally running away from moving on, he waits with a mocking indifference until things pass on. He can be diligent, but is largely apathetic, drifting along while his situation remains comfortable. Gabe (Aaron Stanford) finds himself unable to move on as he needs to, and finds it necessary for himself to abandon familiarity, to do something solely for himself, even though it means leaving all relations behind.

Jim can't understand why Gabe needs to leave, or at least he convinces himself of that. While he doesn't know what to do about his children, having them close has been a comfort. Understanding that as adults, his children may not do what he wants, and letting them do what they need to comes very hard. It's through his relationship with Molly Ripkin (Allison Janney), who's housesitting for some neighbors, that he comprehends Gabe's reasons. Molly finds no satisfaction in her occupation, and the opportunity to leave everything behind for a while becomes a springboard for an entirely new life experience. She has the need to start afresh. and Jim sees this in Gabe. While Jim is initially very uncomfortable with spending time with a woman other than his wife, he begins his life after shakily, but he's trying.

The core ensemble feels very comfortable with each other, particularly Webber and Stanford. Gabe and Pete's character dynamic feels genuinely playful, occasionally contentious, but supportive. Anthony LaPaglia's character undergoes the most emotional change, and Jim's frustrations, fears, and perseverence are incisive. Allison Janney is also a delight. Michelle Monaghan gives depth and acknowledgement to Stacey, whom Gabe is leaving behind.


Josh Sternfeld's screenplay employs great use of nonverbal communication. The camera lingers long enough to read into the characters' thoughts. This, his direction and the editing by Plummy Tucker provide a lean story, while still providing necessary insight into the characters and setting. The cinematography by Harlan Bosmajian is onubtrusive, while still capturing the natural beauty of small-town New Jersey. In capturing this beauty, there is a rather overt use of symbolism at the end that feels forced. Emotionally concise and with little narrative excess, [b]Winter Solstice[/b] was an unexpected delight.
September 18, 2005
GOOD, NOT GREAT. WELL DEVELOPED CHARACTERS, SLOW MOVING AT TIMES, A BIT DEPRESSING AS WELL. NICELY ACTED BY ALL, ESPECIALLY LA PAGLIA. BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS. EFFECTIVE SCORE. GOOD WRITING. SMARLY EDITED DOWN TO AN HOUR AND HALF, A FILM LIKE THIS DIES ON THE SCREEN WHEN IT IS TOO LONG.
September 14, 2005
[b]Mad Hot Ballroom[/b] >> B >> Cute, funny, and touching.

[b]Love Me If You Dare[/b] >> B >> Engaging, comical at times, heartfelt... if a bit predictable.

[b]Winter Solstice[/b] >> B+ >> Realistic, shows the quiet after-effects of a family tragedy...

[b]Red Eye[/b] >> D+ >> Suspenseful at infrequent times, cliched plot, uninteresting characters, and over before you know it. Cillian Murphy (sp?) plays a pretty good bad guy though.
March 30, 2005
What an amazing piece of work for Josh Sternfeld's first feature length film. He is a rising star and I suggest everyone goes to see it when its released in April.
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