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Actress Reese Holden (Deschanel) has been offered a small fortune by a book editor if she can secure for publication the love letters that her father (Harris), a reclusive novelist, wrote to her mother, who has since passed away. Returning to Michigan, Reese finds that an ex-grad student (Warner) and a would-be musician (Ferrell) have moved in with her father, who cares more about his new friends than he does about his own health and well-being.
Reese (Zooey Deschanel, All the Real Girls) is a brusk barmaid/actress, toiling away in the East Village fringe circuit. Her father is reclusive J.D. Salinger-like author Don Holdin (Ed Harris, A History of Violence). Reese hasn't seen him for years. One night after a performance, an editor from a major publishing house (Amy Madigan, Carnivàle), offers $100,000 for the letters he and her late mother exchanged during their courtship. Reese turns her down flat. Eventually, she changes her mind and takes off for rural Michigan to retrieve them. She finds the disheveled, hard-drinking Don living with former student Shelly (Amelia Warner, Quills) and ex-Christian rocker Corbit (a disarmingly straight-faced Will Ferrell). It's a bizarre, if functional arrangement: Shelly cooks the meals, while Corbit serves as security guard. All try to make nice, but the coke-snorting, insult-flinging Reese won't have any of it. She just wants to find the letters and go. This turns out to be trickier than expected, especially once she actually sits down to read them. Directed by and adapted from his two-act play, Adam Rapp's Winter Passing is the kind of well-intentioned independent where longstanding family issues are solved in just a few days (to the gentle strains of Cat Power and the Shins). Nonetheless, it offers the unique opportunity to see Deschanel and Ferrell, Elf's charmingly mis-matched couple, cast against type. As expected, Harris provides solid support, while Warner's clear-eyed Shelly is the true heart of the story. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
- "Behind the Scenes" featurette
- Features both widescreen and full screen versions on the same disc
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Top customer reviews
Other films like The Royal Tenenbaums and Finding Forester are two other films that come to mind as great works that fall along the same lines.
Zooey Deschanel, who is my favorite beautiful face out there right now also delivers a great performance. She is a real actress, not just a pretty head. Even her name was probably inspired by Salinger's Franny and Zooey. She was perfect in this film. Will Ferrell also gives a great subdued performance. He is obviously trying to make that transition to drama just as Adam Sander has been attempting. This was a good step in the right direction.
The film is one of those that requires re-watching again and again. It's a pleasure.
To my knowledge, the first time I had seen anything Zooey Deschenel did was in last year's Sci Fi movie The Tin Man. She was good in that, but her performance there can't hold a candle to her performance in Winter Passing. She plays a the daughter of two authors that grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula who sort of just "left" home to find her way in New York. After her mom dies, a few events end with her going back to Michigan to see her dad, played by Ed Harris. She's not so shocked to find her dad has become a self-absorbed alcoholic, seemingly giving up on life after the death of his wife.
The movie sort of plays out as a coming of age movie, but from many different (and sometimes odd) angles. Zooey's character seems to not really care about much of anything except the here and now, her dad seems to dwell on the past and emotions between the two are a mish mash of regret, despair, depression and sadness. There may be some love in there, but you have to really dig deep to find it.
Winter Passing is dark... the atmosphere is gloomy and until you get to the end, you won't find yourself laughing too much at anything that goes on. Except for Will Ferrell's character. While not in the film all that much, Ferrell plays a character living with Ed Harris who is at once shy, overly-religious and kind. His character is the one and only comic relief you'll find throughout most of the film, and he plays the part so well, it's s shame he isn't more well known for this part than some of his other roles. If you're reading this and thinking "Ah, I hatye Will Ferrell's brand of comedy", don't fret... this is a character I guarentee you've never seen him play before. He's... disturbed, to say the least.
I've seen some people on this forum talk about the cat scene. They are making it out like she just kills the cat for no reason, but she isn't. I won't give it away, but there's TWO different reason she did what she did to the cat. It apparently made an imapct on some cat-loving viewers, so the makers of the movie obviously accomplished what they set out to do.
Like I said, I recorded this movie, but it was so good I bought it. If the beginning of this movie where Zooey's character was in new York had been cut by 10 or so minutes, this would have been a perfect movie. As it is, it still is damn near perfect.