Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cold Weather (B+)

Cold Weather, the new film by indie director Aaron Katz, is a difficult movie to review. If you look at it's plot synopsis it appears to be an average run-of-the-mill "Hardy Boys" style mystery movie:

"Doug (Lankenau) returns home to Portland, Oregon after dropping out of college in Chicago. When his ex-girlfriend, Rachel (Rikoon), materializes and subsequently disappears, Doug sets on an investigation with his co-worker, Carlos (Castillo), as the two men put their love of old detective novels to use."

If the film had followed that plot, it would've probably been a decent film, though a forgettable one. Luckily, it doesn't. The film more closely examines Doug's relationship with his more successful sister, and his newly found friend Carlos. Every character in this film is played by an unknown which was a casting choice which worked outstandingly. All the performances in this film are subtly brilliant, especially the actor who plays Carlos, Raul Castillo in his feature-film debut.

One other way that the film drifts away from the plot mentioned above, is in its pace. Despite having a relatively short runtime of 96 minutes, the detective work only takes place within the last half of the film. The first half is spent displaying Doug's life in a way possible which could only exist within an independent movie. As an example, there is a ten minute silent scene where Doug and his sister enjoy lunch and walk on the beach. It's a beautiful scene with no plot, no dialogue, and certainly no mystery.

Though Cold Weather is well shot and well acted, the general plotlessness of the first half does lead eventually to tedium. Aaron Katz obviously wants us to completely understand our three heroes before leading them into the fray, but some scenes definitely should have been left on the cutting room floor. Even at 96 minutes, it still feels a bit too long.

All in all, Cold Weather is a great film, but is not for everyone. If you like your mysteries with tons of jumps, shooting, and explosions, this is not your kind of movie and you will be bored to tears for a good majority of the movie. However, if you don't mind missing out on those high-octane thrills Cold Weather should be on your radar if it comes to an independent theater near you.

Grade: B+

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