Thursday, 9 October 2008

No.81 : Winter People

Winter People at the IMDb

‘Winter People’ must be one of the least appealing film titles of all time, and when you marry it to that dull poster you can imagine this was a ‘W’ quest movie I wasn't looking forward to. In the event it’s not as dull as it appears to be, but not by much.

Kurt Russell plays a widower who is packing up to move away with his daughter and her pig. He works as a clockmaker and there’s not much call for new timepieces what with the Great Depression and all. After the briefest of visits to his wife’s grave the happy trio set off on their new start. Unfortunately Kurt drives his car into a river (darn sat-nav!) and they have to hoof it through the mountains on foot. Luckily they spot the smoke from a cabin and they meet young mum, Kelly McGillis. She is hesitant to help at first but gives in when she sees the pig, as she’d one too as a child. And very tasty it was too.

Kurt clumsily establishes that Kelly is an unwed mum but decides to hang about anyway when his car is ransacked by the local hillbillies. He visit’s the town and manages to strike a deal to build a new clock for the church tower in exchange for some new wheels. As time passes he slowly gets friendly with the towns folk, especially when he saves the day during a bear hunt - gangsta style! Trouble is brewing however in the shape of the baby’s father, one of the hillbillies, who forced himself on Kelly and now wants second helpings.

After getting a real kicking Kurt manages to best the villain utilising his previously touted cold water survival skills. They send the unconscious rogue away on his horse, sure in the knowledge that he won’t survive the night. The body is found and the Clampetts are out for revenge - can Kelly come up with a plan that will save her brothers and Kurt, while saving a fortune on the nappies at the same time?

I was bored as rigid as the frozen redneck by this film. Nothing much happens which is understandable when your lead is a clockmaker. Some excitement is injected by a fight with a black bear but it looked so trained I thought it was going to make off on a bicycle at the end. The other confrontations were mostly wordy and went on beyond my abilities to stay awake.

Kurt and Kelly had no chemistry at all and I didn’t believe in their love story in the least. The ‘Sophie’s Choice’ style ending didn’t ring true either nor did the Daddy Baddie’s closing appearance. The massive four-sided clock was quite good though but I didn’t believe that Kurt knocked it out in a couple of weeks.

Down the cast list you do get Lloyd Bridges who’s OK but I kept hoping he’d say ‘Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue’. The pig is quite good although the little girl is a bit too screamy for my tastes. The baddie family were good fun, all decked out like Davy Crocket meets The Texas Chainsaw massacre. Their toothless smiles and shootin’ the place up antics were only undone by their total lack of menace.

At 105 minutes the film is too long and judicious editing down to say, 20 minutes would have been welcome. A heartfelt emotional drama for some, but for me it was a plodding trip to Dullsville. Just like most winters this one was cold and bleak and you’re glad when it’s over.

Best Bit : “I loved that clock!”

‘W’ Rating 10/23

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