Winter Solstice (Josh Sternfeld). 90 minutes. Opens Friday (April 15). For venues and times, see Movies, page 99. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Anthony La Paglia 's new film, Winter Solstice , could use a little bit of his TV show, Without A Trace.
On TV La Paglia is part of an FBI missing persons unit trying to find people who seem to have vanished into thin air, which is what's happened to the ending of Winter Solstice.
While they're at it, the Without A Trace team might try to locate the plot development, character growth and whatever mysterious illness prompted Allison Janney and La Paglia to sign on.
Desperately well-intentioned, the movie tells the story of the Winters family (yep, that's where the title comes from). La Paglia plays widowed dad Jim, who's unable to connect with his boys, Gabe (Tadpole's Aaron Stanford ) and Pete ( Mark Webber ), despite his best efforts to bond. This is understandable when you consider that the brothers' communication mainly consists of "Hey" and/or blank stares.
We're meant to believe that the love of a good woman helps Jim live his life again and become a better father, but the romance involves Molly (Janney) awkwardly sharing dinner with Jim, and a strangely more uncomfortable scene where they cheek-kiss in his truck. Subplots like the one about a quirky history teacher ( Ron Livingston ) are just as inexplicable.
I sense that first-time writer/director Josh Sternfeld really wanted to say something here. Unfortunately, his characters aren't talking.