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Winter Solstice

18 Apr

Winter Solstice — Directed and Written by Josh Sternfeld. Domestic Drama. A father and his two teenage sons struggle to hold things together. 89 minutes Color 2004

**

Why do screenwriters steal from screenwriters? The tradition goes so far back it should by now agree to fall into the dark of prehistory. For the result is that screen scripts play like screen scripts and not like any recognizable form of real speech and action, and worse: play without any responsibility to entertain. In real life, humans have more zest, more character, more wit, than what is borrowed from screen scripts. No one in this movie talks like any human really talks, or responds as people really respond. In fact, they don’t even breathe like anyone really breathes. If the pauses had been deleted the picture would have been quicker than a cartoon. Films, drama depend upon having interesting people in them to say interesting things; it’s a must, and no actor in this picture, in and of himself (unless you’re someone on the order of Spenser Tracy, Edward G. Robinson) has sufficient natural interest with which to fill those Mojave pauses. Competent acting is not enough. Allison Janney alone brings her richness of humor before us for our blessed relief. If you watch her negotiate this paltry script, you can see how her natural gift supplants every platitude  and every longueur with life. As to the rest, it is tv acting at its most deplorable. The screenwriter’s choices are viciously dull. When the boys are not insolent they are sappy. When the father is not dreary, he is weak. If people were really like this, one would certainly not want to make a film about them, would one; indeed, were life like this, one would not even wish to be alive.

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