Movie Reviews


Winter SolsticeWinter Solstice

Starring: Anthony LaPaglia, Aaron Stanford, Mark Webber, Ron Livingston and Allison Janney.
Directed/Written by: Josh Sternfeld



Bluntly speaking? Winter Solstice is so touching it actually reaches the soul. Not a "big" film, or filled with explosions, it implodes with raw real emotion. It's positively voyeuristic - like you've snuck up to a neighbor's window and watched their story. And the trio of men leading, Anthony LaPaglia, Aaron Stanford, and Mark Webber, simply mesmerize as they bring director/writer Josh Sternfeld's film to life.

Story goes…Jim Winter (Anthony LaPaglia) is an ordinary guy raising two sons in New Jersey. There's the usual teenage angst running rampart through the house, the stunted dinner conversations, and occasional slights a younger child would never unleash upon their father.

The family as close to the expected Suburban perfection ideal as possible. However beneath the façade, behind the colonial style door, there's a deeper issue eating at the heart of this family - a great loss.

The Winters lost their mother and wife five years ago. Though nothing much is "said," the loss has frozen the father, and distanced the kids.

Jim plods along, smiling and coping, trying to communicate with his sons, Gabe and Pete. The boys have their own lives - as most teenagers do.

Gabe (Aaron Stanford) is planning on leaving and you immediately get the sense this flying the coop is partly to grow into a man, and partly to escape the hometown that has shadows of a lost mother in every nook and cranny…

The other boy Pete (Mark Webber) has become a kind of dis-attached solemn faced nonentity - on the outside; his stoic, could-care-less demeanor masking the inner pain.

When a stranger Molly Ripkin (Allison Janney) comes to town, and as Gabe's departure date is announced, the Winters family starts to thaw a bit, and this close family may just see the light of spring again.

Anthony LaPaglia is simply remarkable as the crushed - but continuing as we do - Jim Winters. Tony's subtle performance slowly "defrosts" until "Jim's" smile is finally real and again open to life.

Aaron Stanford and Mark Webber have such a chemistry between them, you recheck the cast notes to see if the last names are the same…. and keep your eye peeled on this Webber fella, he's a manlyberry studmuffin in the pre-cooking stages - the Aaron bloke's none to shabby neither. Purr. Aar's played Pyro from X-Men, and here he's Gabe - a versatile talent.

Winter Solstice moves slowly, like its subject of rebirthing, and recovering from a trauma - life when struck with a sadness. The cinematography, the acting, the realness of this whole "world," is just impeccable. The aftermath of tradegy, and the restructuring is Winter's study and this small, intimate, film is going to stay with you for a long time. Enjoy.

Snack recommendation: Dairy Queen Blizzards

The Emilyism©






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