Cold Weather (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
26Mar/110

Cold Weather (2011)

Cold Weather is in limited release now, click here to find a showtime close to you.

ANDREW LIKECold Weather is the kind of thriller that sneaks up on us every so often.  It's playful in so many ways that it doesn't even bother getting to the central mystery of the film until we have a good idea of what kind of world the characters inhabit.  The gray and dreary overcast of clouds serves more as an ironic counterpoint to the optimistic spirit of the plot.  This is the generation that can look at itself, be satisfied with who they are, and rise to a mystery when needed.

Before I start gushing too much, the first forty minutes of Cold Weather left me a little confused as to what kind of movie it was trying to be.  I was told that the movie was a thriller and instead I was getting to know the ins and outs of Doug (Cris Lankenau), his sister Gail (Trieste Kelly Dunn), his new friend Carlos (Raul Castillo) and his ex-girlfriend Rachel (Robyn Rikoon).  We don't get to see every detail of their lives panned out but get a good idea of the rhythm of Gail's boring job, Carlos' sensitive musical side, Rachel's tenderness and Doug's love of Sherlock Holmes.  Doug and Carlos continue their lives at the ice factory they work at, Rachel starts some legal work, and Gail tries to keep her mind occupied with Doug and company.  All seems well.

Then one night Doug gets a call from a frantic Carlos.  Rachel was supposed to meet him at a club where he DJs, but never showed up.  Doug, rightly suspicious of being woken up at night for something like this, agrees to go to Rachel's hotel with Carlos just to make sure that she's ok.  After a quick inspection Doug is just about ready to give up on Carlos when he notices a man in the parking lot watching them.  Carlos sprints off, so does the man, and Doug becomes convinced that something is up.  This is when director Aaron Katz kicks a wonderfully off-putting score onto the soundtrack, one that we'll become familiar with as the details of Rachel's disappearance come into focus, so too does the score grow more complicated.

Aaron Katz has a great eye for visual detail and always finds the perfect way to shoot the moment with the mood.

It was once that music kicked in with Doug's realization that I realized that Aaron Katz has a nearly perfect control of tone in this movie.  Those moments getting to know Doug and everyone were completely necessary to see how the details of Rachel's disappearance would affect their lives.  These are some of the most fully realized characters that I've come across in movies for some time.  They're not smart in the way we've come to expect from movies, they're not insta-geniuses that solve everything with a well timed quip, they are people who make the most out of the resources that their jobs and surroundings can afford.

Doug makes a wonderful central character for the mystery and I would love to see him in another "adventure".  He dropped out of college but he's not a lost soul and really seems to enjoy his work at the ice factory.  The way he reacts to Carlos and Rachel's growing relationship shows more integrity in his character than most other detectives.  Instead of manufacturing a stock reason for Doug to be interested in Rachel's disappearance, like he's still passionately in love with her or he needs to protect her, Doug just does this because he's a good person and is genuinely worried about his friends.

That optimistic spirit is really felt throughout the many ingenious scenes in this  film.  Doug may not be Sherlock Holmes, but he's more than capable of exercising the part of his mind needed to figure out what's going on.  The film allows him little detours so that he can get his mind right and one of the most charming is when he figures that since Sherlock smoked a pipe, maybe that will help him think.  This leads to three amusing moments, Doug figuring out that pipe smoking is an expensive habit for a $8 an hour employee, Doug finally lighting up the pipe and deeming the experience "ok", then a later shot of Carlos dexterously puffing on the same pipe as they all lay around trying to figure out what to do next.  They're all little details and not exactly central to the mystery of the plot and the flashes of insight that Gail has at work all help this movie breathe a life that surprised me.

There are no real chase scenes but one long and wonderfully drawn out day of tailing and impromptu disguise.

I wasn't tense throughout Cold Weather so much as I was thrilled to see where the plot was going next (which, being a thriller, is kind of the point).  What we have is an ingenious and loosely wound film made by smart people who wanted to show good characters solving a mystery.  The "villains", because you can barely call them that, are just as smartly realized.  There are no big speeches, no hero hanging by a thread moments, just the suspense of Doug thinking through a complicated situation and coming out ahead.  Doug may not be Sherlock, but the people who caused all this are certainly not Moriarty, and weren't counting on someone as ethical and smart as Doug to be on the case.

Bully for you Doug and I can't wait to see what director Aaron Katz comes up with next.

Cold Weather (2011)
Written and directed by Aaron Katz.
Starring Cris Lankenau, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Raul Castillo, and Robyn Rikoon.

Posted by Andrew

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