Winter Passing Reviews
Zooey Deschanel is solid in the lead role. Good to see her in an edgy role for once. She usually plays sweet innocent characters (not that I am complaining though - I loved her in 500 Days of Summer). Here she is a selfish, chain-smoking, cocaine-snorting, foul-mouthed bitch.
Ed Harris is superb in the role of the father, though this is to be expected. (He seems to revel in portraying sick/depressed/emotionally scarred characters). Interesting to see Will Ferrell in a dramatic role, and he does OK in it.
I quite enjoyed this movie, although it was a bit slow in the beginning and it doesn't really pick up until Will Ferrell and Ed Harris come into the picture. It's quite a deep drama that deals with a relationship between a father and daughter. All of the characters put in good performances, but it's Will Ferrell that makes the movie. His characters is extremely funny, in a serious way, and Ed Harris also went out of his way to make his character believable. The main character, Zooey Deschanel, has a unemotional way of acting, which works in this movie and makes the movie what it is. In all the second half was an emotional journey but the first half was a bit all over the place. Watchable!
This movie was made before Will Ferrell was known for his silly lines and phrases, which is why I was looking forward to watching the film. He isn't doing his usual shouting and cracking silly jokes throughout the movie which was why it suited the whole tone of the film. I even enjoyed the student that was living in the house with them, who also suited the weird and mysterious world that they created in the house. It's just a shame that they never concentrated on the whole family except for just the main character who was pretty dull in places.
Worldwide Gross: $114,000 (Terrible!)
I recommend this movie to people who are into there comedy/drama that deals with the lose of a family and how it effects a husband and daughter. 4/10
The movie stars Zooey Dachenel - an actress that I normally like - as Reese Holden, the estranged daughter of a once famous novelist who became a teacher, then dropped out of sight and climbed inside a bottle. She doesn't talk to her family anymore and moved away from Michigan to live in New York where she works as a bartender and part-time actress and fills the rest of her time with casual sex, booze, drugs and self-pity. Reese has a hateful manner with everyone that seems born out of insecurity. That might be endearing if it didn't grow irritating to the point of being insufferable.
The movie opens with the information that Reese didn't attend her mother's funeral because "she treated me like a mild curiosity". Reese couldn't care less about her family until an editor named Lori Lansky (Amy Madigan) approaches her about acquiring some letters that were written back and forth between her father and her mother. Lansky will pay money for the letters and Reese, after pelting Ms. Lansky with insults and sarcasm, agrees because she needs the money.
So, Reese takes a trip back home by bus where she is surprised to find her father does not live in the old house but in a broken-down shack behind it. Her father Don (Ed Harris) is your average drunken writer, a recluse with long white hair who does cute, drunk, recluse things like moving the bedroom furniture out into the back yard. Every corner of the house is littered with so many piles of books that you can't imagine that anyone has actually read all of them Also occupying the house is Corbit (Will Ferrell), Don's bodyguard who asks for I.D. when Reese answers the door and later violently confiscates the camera of a visiting fan and exposes the film before giving it back. The fourth occupant is Shelly, a sweet-natured 23 year-old British women that cooks and cleans for Don and whom - naturally - Reese assumes he is sleeping with. She becomes the butt of most of Reese's hateful comments.
Winter Passing has the potential to really be a great character study, but it is too busy being odd and quirky for its own sake. It is too slow and quiet to really gather any momentum. The characters are so busy being quirky that they never have time to emerge as living, breathing souls. With a cast that includes Zooey Daschenel, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan and Will Ferrell, you are fired up for something great but it never really gets there. It is like a great band took the stage but wouldn't stop tuning their instruments and play already.
Ed Harris is magnificent. His physical acting really is a just portrayal of the body of a chronic drinker. His emotion are raw beneath the cloak of alcohol, and he makes you feel them. Zooey Deschanel is the fundamental piece of this film, introducing us to this world with a depressive and emotional husk of a self-abusing persona. Finally, Will Ferrell surprisingly gives us a really calm performance with only a very sober shadow of silliness coming from the peculiar background of his character.
I have nothing negative to say.
It's not for everyone, but it's a must as a drama that you might say is family oriented.
The first act is all set-up for our lead character, a depressed woman named Reese (Zooey Deschanel). Casual sex, drugs, and self-harm are all part of her daily routine. At night, she is a bartender and sometimes an actress, although I'm not sure if she truthfully enjoys either. Her one love is a kitten she rescued from the streets, although it doesn't play a large enough role in her life. The reason for this depression, presumably, is that her parents -- both were writers who focused too hard on their work -- didn't spend enough time with her, and now her mother is dead. She didn't attend the funeral.
Since her parents were both kind of famous, anything they wrote is apparently worth money. A woman offers Reese $100,000 to publish a series of letters that they wrote to one another. Reese, needing the money, decides to head home in order to find the letters, not caring one way or another if they're published. Of course, people go home all the time in order to find themselves, so it should be little surprise to you what happens over the course of the rest of the film.
What is surprising is how it's not just Reese who needs to improve her life. All four of the characters begin in one place and end in another. Her father, Don (Ed Harris), now an alcoholic, seems to welcome his daughter, even though she ran away at the age of 18 and never looked back. There are also two live-ins who have formed something of a surrogate family. The first is Corbit (Will Ferrell), who plays guitar and does the "manly" work of the house, while the other is Shelly (Amelia Warner), who cooks and cleans and does the stereotypical female work.
These are all damaged individuals who look like they could all snap with the drop of a pin. That certainly happens, but what's intriguing is watching them try to work through their pain, to try to keep everything together, and to avoid setting off everyone else in the household. Some scenes are actually quite tense because of this, which came as quite the surprise to me. Seeing these characters interact with each other is what makes the film worthwhile.
There are some comedic moments to Winter Passing, but considering its tone for the majority of its running time, these are brief reprieves used only to lighten the mood for a short while. For most of the film, we watch Reese talk to other people, wondering how she'll react given the situation. How much will she learn while staying at her former home? And will it change her life for the better, or for the worse? We watch the film to learn these things, and by the end realize that we really do care.
It's way over-the-top at the beginning. She's essentially throwing her life away, not caring about anyone, and we see this for a seemingly endless period of time. Some trimming would have been beneficial here. We understand her depression early on, and having it hammered home like it is here makes it feel as if director/writer Adam Rapp doesn't give his audience enough credit. By the time a kitten's life is threatened, I had already had enough of seeing her act this way, and wanted to see her get home.
At the center of the film is Zooey Deschanel, showing versatility in a role requiring her to act unlike the quirky and happy persona she's known for. Here, she's all doom and gloom, and it's interesting to see her in this light. It's something I'd like to see more of, actually, as it shows us her depth as an actress, and allows her to branch out more. That it's an effective performance is great, too, and it has the power to evoke some serious emotional response from the audience.
I'm not quite as sold on the rest of the performances from the other members of the household. Ed Harris, in what could be almost called self-parody, is dull as the bearded, scruffy alcoholic. Will Ferrell, a man known for zany energy, is boring and lifeless as a musician. Amelia Warner is better, playing a woman who may or may not have a hidden agenda, but little comes from her character, making it feel less important than it should be. Most of these actors get deep characters, but not enough time to fully explore them.
Winter Passing is a good movie filled with deep characters, unfortunate situations and enough comedy to stop the melancholic tone from being overbearing. Its first act drags on for too long, and the supporting cast isn't as strong as you would hope, but Zooey Deschanel is so good in the lead role that she carries the film. The plot is fairly routine, which isn't in the movie's favor, but I appreciated it in large part because of the depth of the characters and Deschanel's performance.