Paramount Home Video
Cast: Anthony LaPaglia, Aaron Stanford, Mark Webber, Allison Janney
Completing a successful run at various film festivals during the 2004 season, including Tribeca and Santa Barbara, and then followed by a limited release in theaters, "Winter Solstice" makes its way to DVD through Paramount Home Entertainment.
A slower paced drama that is a prime example of a film that exposes a "slice of life" is how you could best describe "Winter Solstice". Five years after the death of his wife, Jim Winters (Anthony LaPaglia) and his two sons Gabe (Aaron Stanford) and Pete (Mark Webber) attempt to put their lives together in a smaller American town. Jim, finding it difficult to keep his family whole, has to deal with Gabe's decision to quit his job and move down to Florida with his friend, in an attempt to start a new life. Jim also has a hard time understanding why his younger son Pete, who is rather intelligent, yet continues not to apply himself academically, forcing his teachers to send him to summer school, time and time again. Moving to the neighborhood to house-sit for a three month period is new neighbor, Molly Ripkin (Allison Janney), who forms a friendship with Jim after having him over for dinner one night.
This heart-felt tale that is well written and performed doesn't go too far to challenge the viewer, but makes for a pleasant story-telling experience.
Paramount Home Entertainment delivers "Winter Solstice" in an acceptable anamorphic presentation. I found the black levels to be a bit lacking, causing fine details to disappear slightly and forcing night scenes to have an overall dark-gray tone. Color saturation was good, but surprisingly not very overwhelming as the image appeared a bit "washed" from time-to-time, while still managing to display naturally appearing flesh-tones. The transfer was clean and clear of any dust particles or noticeable compression artifacts.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack managed to provide a clean presentation with naturally reproduced vocals and exhibiting a good overall sonic balance. There was little use of surrounds and the lower frequency .1 channel, which for this type of film, would have been unnecessary.
The only available extra, provided for this DVD release, is the inclusion of an assortment of other films available under the Paramount Classics label.