Adam Rapp's offbeat film about homecoming and reconciliation features an all-star cast, including Will Ferrell (Old School), Zooey Deschanel (Almost Famous, Elf) and Oscar® nominee Ed Harris (1998, Best Supporting Actor, T... more »he Truman Show). When a book editor (Academy Award® nominee Amy Madigan ? 1985, Best Supporting Actress, Twice in a Lifetime) offers to buy the love letters of Reese Holden's (Deschanel) parents, Reese must return home to recover them, only to find her widowed dad (Harris) golfing upstairs, sleeping outside, and living with roommates ? a pretty grad student (Amelia Warner) and a quirky wanna-be musician (Ferrell)! As Reese begins to understand her roots, she learns to accept who she's become.« less
Daniel A. (Daniel) from EUGENE, OR Reviewed on 2/8/2010...
An uninspired film in which none of the actors seem to want to be. Overlong and never particularly funny or sincere. Everyone in this film mumbles.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Sort of beautiful in its own dark and dysfunctional way
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 01/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You look at this film, especially the cover, and you think quirky comedy. Will Ferrell's in it, so you know it has to be a comedy. Well, it is quirky, but Winter Passing is not a comedy; it's actually a pretty bleak, depressing film. Seemingly by design, the film defies your attempts to get your mind around what is going on. Reese, the main character, is a complex, bitter young woman who seems about one disappointment away from killing herself. The kitten scene, which you may have heard of, was especially off-putting to me. I can see how it fits into the movie as a whole, and it's actually a pretty basic, simple scene, but this animal lover didn't see it coming, found it pretty heartbreaking, and struggled to put it behind me as the story progressed. Had I known about this one scene, I doubt I would ever have watched this movie. I'm not trying to turn anyone away from this movie when I say this, though, because this really is an excellent, compelling film.
Great characters make for great films, and Winter Passing has three, almost four, of them. None of them are exactly normal, though. The aforementioned Reese (Zooey Deschanel) is a down-and-almost-out actress/barmaid in New York going nowhere fast. Looking at her, you would never know she was the daughter of two prominent writers, neither of whom she has seen in years. She didn't even go home for her mother's funeral. Her father, Don Holden (Ed Harris), is something of a recluse who disappeared from the scene a while back. Reese really has no plans of ever going home to Michigan again - not until, that is, a literary agency offers her a hundred grand for the letters her parents exchanged early in their relationship. Reese doesn't exactly jump at the money, initially telling the literary agent to go jump. Later, though, as she further succumbs to her depression and thinks about how much cocaine and cigarettes a hundred grand would buy, she changes her mind and catches a bus bound for the Wolverine State.
Returning to the home of so many bad childhood memories, she is met at the door by a stranger, a pretty strange stranger in the form of Corbit (Will Ferrell), a quiet and somewhat childlike "rocker" who once played in a Christian rock band but now acts as a bodyguard of sorts for her dad. Shelly (Amelia Warner), a former student of her dad's, also lives there, sort of classing up the joint with her accent and doing the cooking and cleaning for Corbit and Reese's father, who has now taken up residence in the garage out back. The acclaimed writer (played brilliantly by Ed Harris) is really a broken man: long, unkempt hair, a glass of liquor perpetually in his hand, unwilling or unable to feed or take care of himself, and writing very little. This whole, bizarre living situation does nothing to improve Reese's outlook on life, which leads to conflict with her father and with Shelly. It's basically dysfunctionality squared, leading up to some real emotional fireworks after she discovers exactly how her mother died. Reese originally came to find the set of letters her mother left her, but she ends up staying several days and discovering a lot of more important things about her father and herself. Some emotional issues do get resolved between the main characters, but this isn't exactly the feel-good movie of the year. I would not advise anyone to watch this movie if they're already feeling depressed.
I personally think this is an excellent, albeit unconventional, film, and I'm a little surprised that it doesn't have a higher average rating. Obviously, the film is probably too dark and weird for some people, and others may just be mad because they expected it to be a comedy, but it's really quite a touching film in its own way, and it has a lot to say about life in general. Will Ferrell, I must say, really shows his acting chops in his out-of-character performance as Corbit, Zooey Deschanel seems to be seizing the troubled young woman reins once wielded by Wynona Rider, and Ed Harris is simply superb in his portrayal of the alcoholic, shambling, broken father. The atmosphere and flow of the film really fit the conditions and characters, the writer and director never sell out or overexploit the melodrama borne of the characters' relationships, and the ending doesn't overextend itself across the bounds of believability. Wild Passing is a difficult film to describe; you really have to experience it for yourself."
"His editor thought his was trying to capture the voice of a
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/24/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Winter Passing is a slow, contemplative and unhurried movie, and depending on your tastes, some viewers may find it rather flat and dull. Yes - this movie of one girl's journey to reconnect with her alcoholic father is often monotonous and sometimes tedious, but it's also well acted and carefully nuanced. Director/playwright Adam Rapp seems intent to incorporate a very minimalist script into the action, which in turn manages to convey a lot of feeling from saying very little.
Zooey Deschanel plays Reece, a self destructive, embittered and sullen young actress who spends her days working in short runs of off Broadway productions. She's numb and emotionally closed off, with most of her kicks coming from the occasional snort of coke and impulsive sex. Even slamming her hand in a drawer doesn't make her feel anything. When a predatory book agent (Amy Madigan) turns up offering Reece $100,000 for a collection of letters her mother bequeathed to her, Reece spurred into action.
Her father is the legendary reclusive author Don Holden (Ed Harris) is a washed-up, boozy author, who is not only lamenting the loss of his beloved wife, but hasn't finished a book in decades. He's also angry with Reece for missing her mother's funeral. In reality, Reese hasn't been home to Michigan in years, but lately New York has been getting to her - the final straw is when her beloved kitty is diagnosed with feline leukemia. So off she goes, back to Michigan to her dad, snorting coke along the way.
Reece is indeed surprised at what she finds. Don is so wracked with the disease of alcoholism that he can hardly get up in the morning, and the ramshackle house has now become a literal sea of books. Her father is relegated to the garage while two strangers stay in the house. Shelly (Amelia Warner), an attractive, young former grad student of Don's, who feeds and cares for Don and Corbit (Will Ferrell), a shy, gentle musician who wears thick black eyeliner and plays Christian rock.
Much of the drama of Winter Passing comes from the standoff that develops between Reece and these gatecrashers. She's initially appalled at her father's degeneration, and clearly resents the fact that a British young girl "from Wimbledon" is looking after him. Of course, her main reason for being there is to find the letters, but she ends up getting sidetracked; she's perceptive enough to see that Shelly and Corbit really add some thing to Don's embittered life. Eventually, animosity shades into a kind of muted reconciliation.
Winter Passing is a nicely acted movie with some truly sensitive moments, particularly between Reece and her father - at the end of the movie there's a hospital scene, which is particularly affecting. Rapp has a nice touch for characterizations and offhanded dialogue. Obviously the Holden family is terribly dysfunctional, but Rapp never overplays this, and rarely do any of the characters resort to unrestrained histrionics. You really get a definite sense of Reece's frustrations, particularly when she tries to score at the local bar.
The film's momentum stalls a bit in the last act because everything hangs on whether Reese will find the letters and what she'll do when she finds them. The final scenes are important, but Rapp doesn't really go for the emotional jugular. In the mean time, the characters clash with Shelley determined to stake out her territory, regardless of what Reece thinks of her.
Some of the performances are stronger than others - Farrell is yet again miscast as Corbit; you can't take him seriously, but Deschanel absolutely nails Reece and we come to sympathize with her, even though she's not particularly likable - she can be brutal to people and things she no longer has use for, yet she also eschews a mark of sensitivity - her eventual growth and liberation from her dysfunctional past is one of the highlights of the film. Mike Leonard May 06. "
Outstanding effort from all involved
M. Edwards | Chicago, IL United States | 05/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In a year rife with of litarary films (Capote, Squid & the Whale) it is sad this has been so overlooked. Straight to video with only scattered apearances at fests this film exacts comanding performances from all involved most notably Zooey Deschanel and Will Farell. Adam Rapp's assured direction captures the midwesterner lost in New York as good as I've seen. The dialoge is assured and real. What sort of world do we live in where this film can't get a release but Date Movie gets thousands of screens? I pray this film will find a life on video ala Donnie Darko. Find this movie and see it!"
Inside the Box
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Though the cover for the DVD of WINTER PASSING (a photo of the four main characters crowded into a box) may make many potential viewers pass over this little film, thinking that it must be silly slapstick, this is a fine film written and directed with finesse and style by Adam Rapp, a new face whose talents have been somewhat limited to working on episodes of the TV series 'The L Word'. Rapp gives notice of a fine writer and an equally fine director in this barely noticed little touching movie.
Reese Holdin (Zooey Deschanel) lives in New York, an actress relegated to small parts in off Broadway theater while spending her days as a bartender hooked on alcohol, drugs and casual sex. Her life seems dead-ended: she has become anesthetized by her manner of living. An agent (Amy Madigan) approaches her with an offer to pay her for the letters between her parents, both once famous authors. Her mother has just died, and Reese didn't attend her funeral, so distant does she feel is her relationship to her past. But the spark of money moves her to ride a bus back to her Michigan home to salvage the letters to sell for publication.
Arriving home she is greeted by the weird Corbit (Will Ferrell), a Christian electric guitar player and composer who ears black eyeliner etc, but does care for Reese's severely alcoholic father - the once famous writer Don Holdin (Ed Harris) who hasn't written a novel in years and lives in the garage of his home under the care of Corbit and an ex-student Shelley (Amelia Warner), a bright very young girl with demons of her own. Reese works at reconnecting with her father, struggles with her resentment for the 'caregivers', and ultimately finds the letters she came for, only to make discoveries about her dysfunctional family and her father's status that alters her view of his value as her parent.
The movie is rather stagy and most of the action is unspoken, and while that technique of telling this particular story seems exactly right to this viewer, there are some who will feel frustrated at the rather static pace of the film. Zooey Deschanel once again proves that she is one of our finest actresses on the screen and hopefully this role will bring her to the attention of casting agents and result in our seeing more of this gifted actress in the future. Ed Harris is superb as the wasted, quietly grieving has-been author, keeping his performance understated and in doing so creating a character that is indelible in our minds long after the movie is over. Amelia Warner is also a fine little actress and even galumphing Will Ferrell brings more than his usual tiring comedic talents to this touching role. In all this is a movie that deserves wide attention. There is more to quietly hear and understand about interpersonal relationships than we would expect from the cover! Grady Harp, May 06"
Joshua Miller | Coeur d'Alene,ID | 05/17/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Zooey Deschanel finally nabs a starring role (the only other "starring" role I can think of was in "All the Real Girls") and proves further that not only is she capable of being funny (Elf, Failure to Launch, The Good Girl, & Eulogy) but she can also be a dramatic actress. It is in this film that she delivers probably her best performance...The movie "Winter Passing" is written and directed by Adam Rapp, who shows promise as he's able to show both the vulnerable and animalistic side of his characters. Deschanel plays Reese Holden, an aspiring actress/bartender who lives in New York City. Reese is lost and confused and looks to sex and drugs for comfort. When a book editor offers her 100,000 dollars to retrieve letters, that were written by her father Don Holden (Ed Harris) and recently deceased mother, she reluctantly returns home. Her father is simalar to the Anthony Hopkin's character in the movie "Proof". He's brilliant and slightly off-center. When Reese arrives she discovers that her father is sleeping in the backyard and the garage, while his two roommates inhabit the house. His roommates are Shelly (Amelia Warner) a former student of Don's and Corbit (Deschanel's co-star from Elf, Will Ferrell), an aspiring musician. As Reese tries to stay in the house, while looking for the letters, she also forms bonds with her father as well as Corbit and Shelly. Now for an evaluation on the performances; Ed Harris is good, but is actually in the film for a pretty small amount of time. Amelia Warner, who I'm pretty sure is new, is really good as Shelly. Zooey Deschanel, as I've already said delivers her best performance and I look forward to seeing her in some more dramatic films. Now, it's time for Will Ferrell who many people have said they can't imagine in a serious role. People get to ahead of themselves, however, because this isn't quite a serious role. It's a dramattic role, but it's played with an off-color goofiness. But, don't get me wrong...This is not a typical Will Ferrell role and he could easily transition from comedy to drama like Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Stever Martin, and Tom Hanks have. Anyway, this movie does have it's flaws...It's not perfect, but it is worth watching but just because Will Ferrell is in it. Don't assume it's funny. GRADE: B+
Side-Note: For Zooey Deschanel fans; Zooey Deschanel does not appear nude in this film. There is a sex scene, but the only thing visible is her face for the most part. This is the bravest she's gotten with the sexuality factor in a film yet, but it's still not full frontal. "