Joel Kinnaman chills in Edge of Winter
Starring Joel Kinnaman. Rating unavailable
Mom takes off on holiday, deposits her two city kids with their rural fuck-up dad, and audiences get the cross-Universe comic-book mashup they never asked for. Joel Kinnaman made this sometimes effective backcountry thriller before courting career Suicide as Rick Flag in a certain DC Comics adaptation. Here he’s Elliot, former logger, current redneck, and permanent father to young Caleb (Percy Hynes White) and slightly older and angrier Bradley, played by Tom Holland, your newest Peter Parker as of Captain America: Civil War.
Speaking of civil war, we’re clued in to Elliot and Bradley’s not-great relationship when the elder kid bitches the old man out for killing the planet. “Are you gonna stop using toilet paper?” reasons Elliot, who’s already miffed that “robots” have taken all the deforestation jobs. “Are you gonna stop breathing?” parries young Bradley. Touché! And so begins a movie-long exercise in father-son, country-city conflict, given more empathy on the John Deere side of things than you might expect by Vancouver screenwriter Kyle Mann. It’s a bit like On Golden Pond, if Henry Fonda had been more of a snowbound, beer-swilling psychotic with a sensitive side.
Elliot’s attempts at ingratiation backfire pretty massively, mind you, first with some ill-advised rifle high jinks and then when he lets Bradley drive the jeep. Eventually, the film dumps the trio in a remote cabin with little hope for survival and a late-arriving plot wrinkle that really agitates Dad and starts making Edge of Winter look a bit like The Shining.
There’s room in all of this for a considerably more gothic sensibility than anything provided by first-time feature director Rob Connolly—especially with Elliot’s immediate and near-comical pileup of stupid mistakes—but Edge of Winter is still frosty enough to cut through its sometimes inert tone and a flat soundtrack. The fact that anyone would leave their kids with Elliot in the first place, let alone ever hook up with the guy, is an implausibility that will just have to fend for itself.