Cold Weather (2010)
★★★ / ★★★★
Doug (Cris Lankenau) recently moved in with his sister, Gail (Trieste Kelly Dunn), after his passion for forensic science ran out of steam while attending university. While trying to figure out what he should do next, Doug took a job in an ice factory and met Carlos (Raúl Castillo), a nice guy who DJed on the side. When Rachel (Robyn Rikoon), Doug’s ex-girlfriend, didn’t show up to a date she set up with Carlos, the part-time DJ suspected foul play. When he knocked on her motel room to check if she was okay, the lights were on but nobody answered. Aware of Doug’s background in forensic science, Carlos asked for his friend’s skills as a detective. Based on the screenplay and directed by Aaron Katz, “Cold Weather” plastered a smile on my face from beginning to end because I felt its creative freedom pulsating through the screen. While the dialogue wasn’t particularly groundbreaking, I was caught by its rhythm because the characters talked like people I would encounter in the streets. I wanted to get to know them better because they exhibited a certain warmth and positive energy. I loved that the writer-director added scenes that didn’t have anything to do with the mystery. For instance, it showed Doug, Gail, Carlos, and Rachel playing board games. For them, it was a fun Friday night party. I understood because my friends and I were the same way. In a way, the writer-director managed to communicate how personal this movie was to him by placing importance on small, random scenes related to the type of company that one kept. The first forty minutes observed the relationship between Doug and his sister. We found out that although they were very close, like most siblings, they kept secrets from each other. For example, when Gail confessed to her brother that she thought his job in the ice factory was “strange,” there was disappointment in her voice. However, it was easy to tell that the disappointment she expressed came from a loving place. What she really meant was she expected her brother to find a job in a lab, something better than grunt work, because she knew that her brother was capable of something more. As for the mystery involving Rachel’s disappearance, the tension was sometimes unbearable. I was impressed with the way Katz was able to do so much with so little. I held my breath when Doug and Carlos entered Rachel’s hotel room. I expected to see a typical crime scene. Perhaps even blood and other signs of struggle. But the room was relatively clean. Real detective work was required in which the duo had to dig through trash and lie in order to extract information from the motel attendant without coming off as suspicious. But most of the time they did and there was humor to be found in possibly grim situations. I got the impression that “Cold Weather” was proud of what it was. It certainly ought to be for it successfully balanced multiple genres that felt effortless and without compromise.