Tuesday 19 April 2011


(Aaron Katz, 2010)

It starts off as "mumblecore".
That's a meaningless label, really, a movement that never was. Lets say that it starts off as a slightly arty, beautifully observed, naturalistic Generation Y comedy-drama. Some of the dialogue is improvised, but that just serves to make a couple of exchanges more obscure, offhand and banal than they would be in a more conventionally-conceived film, and that makes it feel more like real life. Nothing major happens. Scenes amiably stroll past without significantly advancing any sort of plot, and that is a pleasure in such a well-directed, nicely acted film. We are introduced to characters and observe the subtle dynamics between them, even if we're not always aware of the significance of these moments.
Then, in two scenes it all changes. Suddenly the film we're watching is a mystery. Never quite a thriller, though it does accrue an unexpectedly gripping quality by the last fifteen minutes or so. But very definitely a mystery, with our protagonist now the hero and the earlier references to Sherlock Holmes suddenly making perfect sense.
This fusion of genre with drama isn't attempted all that often; it seems that filmmakers fear confusing audience expectations or, worse, making something a distributor won't know how to sell, and so most films fit nicely and predictably inside one narrow genre or another. Not Katz's fascinating, lovely third feature, which is a pleasure from start to finish and confirms him as one of the more interesting and accomplished young Directors in American Cinema. Full of beautiful imagery - stark, chilly cityscapes were a feature of his last film, Quiet City, and they are equally well-used here - quietly funny and always believable, Cold Weather is the kind of film that gets missed by far too many people.

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