Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Winter Passing (Adam Rapp, 2006) 
This is the film Garden State should and could have been. It’s funny and offbeat at times, but it seems to have a real purpose behind it, unlike Zach Braff’s film. It’s the same type of story: a child is returning home after the death of a parent, to come into conflict with a father that doesn’t quite understand her. While I don’t fully buy into that whole storyline, it works in this film solely by Zooey Deschanel’s performance. With her porcelain skin, somewhat shaggy black hair, and her wide-eyed blue stare, there’s a way her physical presence really stands out in a film. Her performance has a kind of post-ironic bend to it; she always has a way of giving her lines in a somewhat flat way that sounds disinterested but is in fact the opposite. Perhaps my overabundance of praise on Deschanel clouds my overall vision of the film, but I really don’t think so. Rapp’s visual style, with quite a bit of handheld work and scenes that look muddy and bleak give the film its attitude. It’s a quiet, reserved film, dark at times, with a main character that almost exists in a cloud. As I said before, Deschanel carries the film, but there are some other strong performances. Who knew Will Ferrell could actually be funny by restraining himself? The only problems I have are that the Ed Harris character is underdeveloped and the ending gets a little too sentimental for my tastes. But this is an actor’s film, and all the actors understand their roles in the film, which makes it work.