Winter Solstice

Rated R 2005

Widower Jim Winters and his teenage sons live under the same roof, yet they drift through their shared space like ships on a mist-enshrouded sea, each lost in his own private fog of unhappiness. Five years after the death of his wife in a car accident, Jim (Anthony LaPaglia, terrific as always) still appears shell-shocked. He not only keeps his own grief bottled up, but provides no outlet for his sons to express theirs. Elder boy Gabe (Aaron Stanford from Tadpole) is just waiting for high school graduation to flee his quiet New Jersey suburb for a fresh start in Florida. Younger brother Pete (Mark Webber) covers his despair by acting out at school and at home. Writer/director Josh Sternfeld's feature debut moves at a deliberately slow pace that proves both appropriate and tedious. Oddly, the film's strengths -- its quiet, understated manner; its non-plot; the awkward speech patterns and uncomfortable pauses that suggest emotional isolation -- are also its weaknesses. Well acted and with a beautiful acoustic guitar score.

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