This is the kind of film that drives most people completely insane: a movie that tries to imitate the rhythms of life, and I don't mean that in a good way.
Compare that with your average Hollywood film where the characters typically always know exactly what to say and the dialogue comes rapid fire, all the time, as if nobody ever had to think about what they were doing or saying. The right thing to say is always there, front of mind, in the character's brain.
"Winter Solstice" is a rejection of that universe. In "Winter Solstice," director Josh Sternfeld is trying to capture, focus on and display like a painter at his first exhibit the real moments that make up life. Frequently, these moments aren't so much the things that are said, but the looks that are given and the silences that lie in between the things that are said.
Obviously, the previous paragraph is the kind of pompous bullshit that many critics like to write when they're trying to prove that they're smarter than you. Similarly, the uncomfortable silences in this film are the moments Sternfeld is using to pretend that he has some kind of magnifying glass on the machinations of his verbally-challenged characters.
It's not like it's a secret that Jim Winters (Anthony LaPaglia) and his two boys, Gabe (Aaron Stanford) and Pete (Mark Webber), have gone through some kind of tragedy that has made them the wordless, emotionally-stunted men that they are. For one thing, there's no mother/wife around. I don't know how I was supposed to miss this, but I guess because none of them talk about it until oh, I don't know, the exact moment that Act 3 begins, I was supposed to simply not notice that she was missing.
There's no real story in the movie. We're just supposed to follow along hoping that the characters will change enough that the movie will finally end.
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