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Edge of Winter - Movie Review

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Edge of Winter - Movie Review

3 stars

A very simple story is at the center of Edge of Winter.  It is deceptively modest but loaded with gut-wrenching consequences.  Of course, we don’t really get to see the results of the final action play out on-screen as two boys (Tom Holland and Percy Hynes White) witness the unraveling of their father (Joel Kinnaman) deep in the winterized woods.  But we don’t need to.  The desolation of a man staring through a night of continual darkness is enough.

Edge of Winter is truly a slow burn of a movie; the tension is eerily authentic and builds until a natural breaking point occurs and there is no other choice for a man as broken and down on his luck as Elliot Baker (Kinnaman).  He’s just lost his job.  His divorce is kicking his ass and his two boys – dropped off for the weekend by their mom, Karen (Rachelle Lefevre) – hardly know him at all.  You will pity this man. 

He first tries to impress the boys but when they discover the shotgun under his bed, there’s simply one thing he can show them how to do.  They want to shoot.  And, wanting to be the father he can’t be, Elliot eagerly agrees to take them out into the woods.  But when the boys learn that guns really do kill, he becomes disappointed by their responses and drags them further out into the wilderness to toughen them up. 

With no cell phone and, soon enough, no working vehicle, the family takes refuge from the piercing cold inside an empty hunting cabin and try to soldier through the night.  Except the cabin isn’t exactly vacant and Elliot, learning that this is his final weekend with his boys as they are moving overseas, is slowly becoming unrecognizable.  He’s gone from happy to sad to angry to a complete meltdown.  Frazzled doesn’t even begin to touch upon his particular brand of crazy and, as danger threatens, he finds it difficult to distinguish who he really is from the mountain of stress piling up beside him.

Forget about a rescue mission.  These are HIS boys.

Both Holland and Kinnaman knock this survival tale out of the park.  They bring a solid level of believability to the situation as it continues to spin further and further out of control.  Because the cabin is not vacant, Elliot must determine what the threat level is from the other hunters in the cabin.  It brings about a nice stirring of paranoia that helps amp up the division in first-time director Robert Connelly’s script.  Co-written by Kyle Mann, Edge of Winter lets the emotion of the two boys trying to survive their father’s breakdown carry the weight without selling the audience short.    

Kinnaman and Holland create a tension that drives the narrative forward and do not chew the frozen scenery up with overwrought performances.  Kinnaman, who also appears in Suicide Squad this weekend, plays a character that spirals further down the rabbit hole obsessing over one thought to keep the boys with him.  Holland (Marvel’s new Spider-Man), recognizing his father is slipping from reality right in front of his eyes, looks for any and every way possible to get away from him and get his brother and he to safety.

Edge of Winter won’t win any box office battles this weekend but it will disturb its audience enough to be remembered.  It’s an unsettling survival film that goes dark on its audience with the sun still high in the sky.  Go see it, just don’t expect to leave with the warm feeling spreading through your gut.

Edge of Winter - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R for language and some violence
89 mins
: Rob Connolly
Rob Connolly; Kyle Mann
Shaun Benson, Shiloh Fernandez, Patrick Garrow
: Drama | Thriller
Edge of Winter
Memorable Movie Quote: "Mom's gonna find out about this"
Independent Edge Films
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 2, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: Recently divorced and laid off from his job, Elliot Baker (Joel Kinnaman, Suicide Squad) is desperate to spend more time bonding with his sons, Bradley (Tom Holland, Captain America: Civil War) and Caleb (Percy Hynes White). What starts as family day trip to teach his boys how to shoot turns into a nightmare when they become stranded. As they retreat to a desolate cabin, Elliot's mounting fear of losing custody pushes him to the edge. The brothers quickly realize that the man responsible for keeping them safe has now become their biggest threat.

No details available.

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