Winter Passing (review)

Get new reviews in your email in-box or in an app by becoming a paid Substack subscriber or Patreon patron.

This is the kind of movie where if you’re an actor, then you’re of course a starving, scrounging, struggling actor in New York City who slams your hand in a drawer and engages in mindless sex on a regular basis to deaden the pain and pushes away — figuratively and sometime literally — everyone and everything that threatens to crack your tough facade. This is the kind of movie where if you’re a writer, you’re a reclusive, suicidally depressed writer who lives in the woods and has to contend with annoying literary nerds knocking on your door without a by-your-leave even though you haven’t written a word in twenty years. Thankfully, though, Winter Passing — the first feature from playwright Adam Rapp — is saved from its precious anti-preciousness by its spectacular cast: Zooey Deschanel (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) as the miserable actor, Reese Holden, and Ed Harris (A History of Violence) as her father, the Salinger-esque author Don Holden. Watching these two play out the long-time-coming reunion of their estranged father and daughter is, compellingly, like watching a train wreck in reverse, as these two human disasters pull back and reassemble themselves from their component parts. The piled-on pain and depression and loneliness — and the attendant de rigueur hugs all round at the end — is made bearable by Deschanel’s deadpan snark and all-encompassing general coolness, by Harris’s refusal to let his recluse become a caricature, and by, surprisingly, Will Ferrell (Curious George) as Don’s live-in (platonic) pal and wannabe musician who becomes something like a brother to Reese. I’m starting to get the sneaking suspicion that Ferrell is on a path to Bill Murray Land: his Corbit is just this side of Forrest Gump ultra indie quirkiness, but Ferrell makes him sad and sweet.

share and enjoy