There are very few films that come into existence that becomes one of the most important films you need to see in your lifetime. “Winter” from Heidi Greensmith is one of those movies that should be on your list of things to see before you die.
This film premiered as the finale at the New York City International Film Festival. It was adequately placed at the end of the festival because it would have blown all of the other feature films out of the water.
Tommy Flanagan (“Gladiator” and “Sons of Anarchy”) stars in this heart-wrenching tale of a man who has lost his way. The film begins with a drunken man that could easily be mistaken as a homeless man. He’s not homeless, he has a home. It’s his son, who deferred a fellowship with Columbia University for two years, who tries to bring his father out from underneath this gloom that has consumed him.
At first, you may think this film is about an alcoholic father who is abusing his kids and has lost the rights to see his youngest son (who is in foster care). No. That is another mistaken assumption.
This story is about a family who lost a wife and a mother to a very violent crime. It’s the story of a man who is broken and blaming himself for his wife’s death. As a result, he falls into an abyss of mental illness. This artist is trying to get his kid back, and his eldest son is just waiting for his dad to return to normal. He sacrifices so much trying to help his father get back on his feet again.
The amazing thing about this story is that it teaches you not to judge a book by its cover. This man’s mental illness came about because of grief and regret. His son put it perfectly. His dad was not crazy. His heart was just broken.
It is in this man’s healing that he returns to painting again, but in a whole new light. He’s a different man working out his demons and creates complete and utter genius. His eldest son saw this from the beginning. He saw the man his father truly was. To him, this story is not about an abusive alcoholic father that has fucked everything up for their family. This story is truly about a man that had a broken heart and lost all sense of himself the day his wife died. He just needed time (and help) to find a way out of that grief.
I believe this quote from Lisa See’s “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” adequately describes the journey this man takes out of sorrow.
Only through pain will you have beauty. Only through suffering will you find peace.
This incredible tale makes you re-evaluate how you look at life and at people who are going through a difficult time in their life. On the surface, we instantly stereotype them as drunks, alcoholics, abusive/neglectful parents, homeless, mentally ill, etc. All of those labels are incorrect. This man is an artist who is waiting for his next inspiration. He’s waiting to discover his own genius that is inside of himself.
Sometimes it takes a life-changing event to discover the genius within. That is the journey this artist was on.
Tommy Flanagan’s role was phenomenal. The way his various emotions were captured on his face…it is a moment of beauty and brilliance. This role opens your eyes to see how incredible of an actor he is. I would say, one of the best in the business after seeing him in this film. He brought his A+ game to this film and his performance is Oscarworthy.
In the story, the eldest son tried his best to keep the family together and help his father at the same time. He is the real hero of the story. The way he saw who his father was deep down inside, most children are not that perceptive. They would have cowered in fear, be mortally wounded with each derogatory word yelled at them. Not this kid. He was just waiting for the genius he saw within his father to emerge. What he was willing to sacrifice for his father to discover that, shows just how much he loved him.
Heidi Greensmith has brought this thought-provoking tale to the screen. Most importantly, you need to note that she is a female director. There are very few in the business. She’s also a mother and a wife and despite her other duties, she was able to make something this brilliant.
The film picked up an award for Best Drama Film at NYCIFF. Tommy Flanagan picked up the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Heidi Greensmith picked up the Best International Director award.
Congratulations to everyone from “Winter.” This film was brilliance.