Winter Passing

Winter Passing (2003)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Ed Harris. Zooey Deschanel, Will Ferrell
Extras: Featurette, Trailers

Ed Harris and Zooey Deschanel star as an estranged father and daughter who are forced to interact with each other after many years apart.

Don, (Ed Harris) is a washed up, alcoholic novelist who is living as a recluse. Reese, (Zooey Deschanel) is his embittered daughter – a barmaid and frustrated actress with her own demons – namely a cocaine habit. One evening, Reese is approached by a publisher and offered a huge amount of money if she can secure publication rights to the love letters Don wrote to Reese's mother who has since passed away. At first, Reese refuses, wanting nothing to do with her dad. She changes her mind however, and begins the trip back home just wanting to get the letters and leave.

Upon meeting up with her father, Reese finds him to be ravaged by alcohol and living with a former student, as well as an ex Christian rocker named Corbit, (played straight by Will Ferrell). Reese can't suffer these fools, and just wants to get the letters and leave – but events cause Reese to stay on as she begins reading the letters…

Adapted from his two act play, director Adam Rapp brought "Winter Passing" to film on a budget of about $4 million dollars. You have to be in a certain mood to get into movies about problems in other people's lives and families in order to appreciate this one. The film often has a slow, but deliberate pace to it – sometimes tettering on boredom. There aren't any great pay-offs and many may consider it dull as heck. But I did manage to find "Winter Passing" an interesting character study of going back home and reconnecting with one's past and family.

Ed Harris is effective as the alcoholic author/father who has just about given up on life. Zooey Deschanel also turns in a good performance, as she plays her character as a self destructive and bitter young woman. Will Ferrell, instead of being the center of attention, blends into the background.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment debuts this Indie film on a double-sided DVD. Side A features the movie in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, shot as the director intended. Side B features a full frame 1.33:1 version. The widescreen image was quite impressive for a movie shot on such a low budget. Daylight scenes are bright, while contrast is well balanced offering decent shadow delineation within the deep black levels. Color is strong, while flesh tones appear natural. I noticed some minor edge-enhancement but nothing to distract from viewing the movie. I skimmed through the full frame version and found the image to be acceptable.

The audio section offers a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround track only. Most of the action is dialogue driven and emanates from the front speakers as a result. The center channel is clean and free of distortion.

There isn't anything in the way of special features, except for a mini behind-the-scenes featurette and two trailers – one of which is for the movie itself.

Like I said, if you are in the mood for a sometimes somber and depressing movie about dysfunctionality and reconnnecting with family, "Winter Passing" may be worth a look.