Monday, October 22, 2012

This Left Me Numb: "Winter Nights" (2009)

I really like most short films. It takes a special talent to get a story and characterization across in such a short span of time. At thirty-three minutes, "Winter Nights" provides an attractive leading lady, and little else.

Megan (Ilana Guralnik) kidnaps World War II veteran Colton (Tony Mathews) at gunpoint. He is sickly and frail, but still goes along with the crime. During the film's flashbacks, we see Megan dealing with some heavy issues in her life. She has broken up with fiance/hockey player Mickale (Alinur Goksel), and her grandmother Helen (Elaine Levin) is dying of cancer. As Megan and Colton come to like each other, Megan's kidnapping motive is revealed.

Kevin Ling wrote and directed the short film. The title is one of many references to cold, along with characters' names and some peripheral situations. Ling does not follow through on these points, turning an already preposterous situation into a short soap opera that I quickly found tedious. Mathews and Levin are fine, even while delivering the clunky dialogue. Guralnik actually gets better as the film goes along. She is curvy and sexy and totally holds the screen when she is on. Technically, the picture looks better than the sound plays. Ling's director of photography does a nice job, and the closing theme music is memorable.

Ling could have either mined this for some dark comedic gold, or gone into a deadly serious Gothic drama. Instead, the film cannot make up its mind, but I'm sorry to say I can. Go ahead and skip this cold "Winter Nights." (* *) out of five stars.