Winter Passing

on February 17, 2006 by Annlee Ellingson
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Based on a two-act play, stage veteran Adam Rapp's feature film debut centers around 20-year-old struggling actress Reese (Zooey Deschanel) and her estranged father Don Holden (Ed Harris). Upon the suicide of her mother, Reese is approached by a book editor regarding a cache of her parents' love letters. Breaking a six-year estrangement (she didn't attend the funeral), she travels from New York City to Michigan to retrieve them, only to find that her reclusive father has taken up residence with practical-minded former student Shelly (Amelia Warner) and naïve would-be musician Corbit (a wonderfully straight Will Ferrell). In her childhood home, it is Reese who is the outsider.

Shooting handheld in long, continuous takes, Rapp and DP Terry Stacey tangibly capture the wind and cold of the Upper Peninsula winter. Meanwhile, critical to the success of character-driven drama is casting, and the production is fortunate here as Harris, for whom Rapp wrote the role, fully inhabits the body and mind of a deteriorating old man, while Deschanel's wide, expressive eyes match his in ice-blue color and intensity. Unfortunately, as a character, Don -- Roth-like in stature, Salinger-esque in seclusion -- and the angst of a blossoming performer among literary giants is too familiar to feel fresh. Starring Ed Harris, Zooey Deschanel, Will Ferrell and Amelia Warner. Directed and written by Adam Rapp. Produced by P. Jennifer Dana and David Koplan. A Freestyle release. Drama. Rated R for language, some drug use and sexuality. Running time: 99 min

Tags: Ed Harris, Zooey Deschanel, Will Ferrell, Amelia Warner, Adam Rapp, family drama, snow, homecoming, drunk, alcoholism, writer, journalist
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