Winter Passing
I wish Ian was here to sip hot cocoa with me.

Theatrical Release Date: 02/17/2006
Director: Adam Rapp
Cast: Zooey Deschanel, Ed Harris, Will Ferrell, Amelia Warner

I had seen “Winter Passing” almost a year ago on DVD but somehow forgot to write up a review until I caught it again on one of the movie channels.

That wasn’t because this little indie flick was a bad film … it’s just that I was a little disappointed. I was still in my “All the Real Girls” phase, admiring the beauty and sincerity of that film, when I heard about “Winter Passing”.

I’m a big fan of Zooey Deschanel and have enjoyed her choices in the film world. Even in a film as trite and bland as “Failure to Launch“, Zooey provided wit and talent.

In “Winter Passing”, she plays the estranged daughter of a famous recluse of an author, played by Ed Harris. He has holed himself up in his house under the watchful eyes of Will Ferrell and Amelia Warner, who act as his assistants and surrogate family.

Under false pretenses and nearing an emotional shutdown, she returns home. Of course, what unfolds and to what degree the father/daughter relationship can be repaired is best left unsaid. However, my problem isn’t in the big picture, it’s in the process.

Writer/Director Adam Rapp has a good ability to present melancholy, which is probably my favorite emotion of all. However, it almost seemed like he was trying too hard to create a whimsical side to the story. This is where Will Ferrell comes into play.

Sure, I think he’s one of the funniest people on the planet – it hardly takes more than a look from him to elicit laughter. And while he’s done decent dramatic work (“Stranger Than Fiction“), his character here is a little too quirky to be taken seriously.

His struggles within the group dynamic created between the other actors are more distracting than anything else and removing the character entirely would have been a better way to tighten up the film in my ever so humble opinion.

That goes hand in hand with my feeling that the film seems to meander its way to the end. I’m all for character pieces; the problem is that I have to believe those characters to enjoy the entire film and I just couldn’t get around to understanding Ferrell’s place in the grand scheme of things.

There are more upsides to the film than what I’ve portrayed so far. The music choices in the film are fantastic and provided a wonderful atmosphere. The performances (even Ferrell’s although I just didn’t see a need for his character) are good. Ed Harris always brings a level of credibility to a project and his interactions with Deschanel are the grounding point for the film.

However, I think that the ending and its buildup are a little mismatched, especially for an independent film. The beauty of films made outside the direct purview of the Hollywood machine is their ability to stray from cookie-cutter endings. That’s not to say that “Winter Passing” completely capitulates to those who need a saccharine sweet ending … it just failed to satisfy my desire to leave things as unresolved on-screen as they tend to be in real life.

Still, if you’re a fan of indie films or Zooey Deschanel, despite my misgivings, this is worth a look. I’m giving “Winter Passing” a 3 out of 5. If you prefer films be more about moving a plot along than developing characters, than move on to another choice. If you’re looking for a moderately successful attempt at melancholy, go ahead and add this to rental queue.