Winter Solstice
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -2

In this drama set in New Jersey, widower Jim Winters (Anthony LaPaglia) struggles to balance his life between raising Gabe and Pete (Aaron Stanford and Mark Webber) and operating his landscape business. Restless Gabe works in a local factory, longing to leave his dead-end job and move to Florida, which would devastate his girlfriend (Michelle Monaghan). Teenager Pete hangs out with his buddies, sleeping late and avoiding schoolwork. Communication among the three is limited to the brothers arguing and Jack weakly attempting to understand his sons. Then Jim meets Molly (Allison Janney), his neighbors house sitter. Like the winter solstice, she marks the end of Jims bleak existence since his wifes sudden death five years earlier. Theres little dialogue, but little is required as the characters actions and expressions show frustration, longing and, finally, contentment and reconciliation.

Anyone familiar with raising a teenager will empathize with this single dad, whose sons act as though he doesnt exist. When Molly invites the family to dinner, the boys do not show up, embarrassing and infuriating Jim. Pete has no social skills and sits in class in a stupor until a history teacher connects with him. While Winter Solstice is void of violence, sex and nudity, it lacks parental guidance. Jim deals with conflict, anger and depression by ignoring his childrens insubordination. When anger erupts, Jack throws his kids mattresses in the yard and locks them out. That honest expression seems to evoke a spark of respect from Gabe and Pete, whose awkward attempt to show affection is both sad and humorous. The honest portrayal of family dynamics could be meaningful for families to see, but sadly the tasteless foul language, with more than 20 strong obscenities, prevents a Preview recommendation.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Distributor: Paramount Classics

Crude Language: Once strong (SOB)
Obscene Language: Many (22) times strong (f-word 18, s-word 3, other 1)
Profanity: Once moderate (G)
Violence: Few times mild (brothers pushing and shoving each other); moderate (boys fight briefly in parking lot)
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Few mild (tobacco use)
Other: Realistic portrayal of family relationships, themes include the importance of openness and honesty
Running Time: 90 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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