Winter Passing

There is something about Winter Passing that is too artificial. It feels too much like a manufactured situation, and as a result, the movie is not able to delve into the emotional depths that writer/director Adam Rapp wants to explore. Winter Passing is comedy/drama about a family in crisis aiming for reconciliation. Nothing new there. The cast, consisting of Ed Harris (A History of Violence, Radio), Zooey Deschanel (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Eulogy), Will Ferrell (The Producers, Wedding Crashers) and Amelia Warner (Aeon Flux, Quills) is strong, but again, Rapp's script hampers their performances.

The plot revolves around the relationship between reclusive author Don Holden (Harris) and his daughter Reese (Deschanel). Don is an emotional wreck who was once a promising author. The death of his wife and inability to write weighs heavily on him. He is now a recluse (sheesh, be a little more obvious with a name like "Holden") who lives with Shelly (Warner), an ex-student, and Corbit (Ferrell), a guy who just kind of showed up. Reese has been estranged from Don for a while. She comes back into his life after an agent offers her a large sum of money to publish a book containing correspondence between her parents.

Deschanel is a great actress, but this role is all wrong for her. She excels at playing smart, world-weary people, and the whole "bitter daughter" thing doesn't come across as believable. Everybody else is a caricature. Harris gives a good performance in a hollow role. Ferrell is nicely subdued, but Corbit is just a kooky character, and Shelly is nice in a boring way. As Reese moves back into her childhood home, tensions flare between everybody. She is clearly uncomfortable around her father, and resents the presence of Corbit and Shelly.

Once Reese is there, Rapp moves too slowly, then too quickly. There is a lot of random yelling between all parties, and lots of storming out. In between are some weird interludes, mostly around Corbit, who is a little off. All of a sudden, Reese and Don are pouring their hearts out to each other paving the way for reconciliation. Huh? What happened? It also doesn't help that it's hard to feel any sympathy for the characters. Rapp does a good job of portraying the estrangement between father and daughter that the viewer will not care if they ever reconcile.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 38 minutes, Rated R for language, sexual situations, brief comic violence, and some drug use.

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