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Winter Solstice

  Here is a modest piece that in its own small way is quite a success.   It doesn’t break any new ground in the family drama genre, but it’s nicely acted and observed.   It’s not out to jerk you around with a plot but rather observes the lives of a suburban family consisting of a landscape contractor, Jim (Anthony LaPaglia), and his two sons: the directionless high school student Pete (Mark Webber) and Pete’s older brother Gabe (Aaron Stanford), who’s preparing to pull out of the Jersey suburb to move to Florida.   Allison Janney is a house-sitter down the street who befriends Jim.   The boys’ mother died a few years back in a way that is not revealed until towards the end of the film.    

What I liked about the picture is that events don’t seem to be happening based on the exigencies of a script formula, by which I mean there’s no feeling that on page such-and-such of the script you must hit a “plot-point”.   Perhaps a closer examination of the film would reveal that the traditional structure is present and accounted for, but it doesn’t feel that way.   Situations that in mainstream films would lead to a resolution or “payoff” are left open-ended.    

Not essential viewing by any means, but a fine piece of craftsmanship.   Written and directed by Josh Sternfeld.

- Apr 29, 2005

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