Cold Weather is an experiment that does not quite work but which is all the more beautiful for its failure.
Aaron Katz is one of several young American filmmakers to be tarred with the Mumblecore brush. Neither a genre nor a movement, ‘Mumblecore’ refers to one of those rare and beautiful moments when a group of creative artists with similar tastes and interests come together and begin to learn from each other’s methods and respond to each other’s ideas thereby creating a series of works with a similar set of aesthetic priorities. While these aesthetics are still evolving, it is possible to see in the work of such directors as Andrew Bujalsky (2002’s Funny Ha Ha), Lynn Shelton (2009’s Humpday) and the Duplass brothers (2008’s Baghead) the development of a cinematic style that has been heavily influenced by the films of John Cassavetes, Mike Leigh and Maurice Pialat.
Mumblecore films tend to be made with small budgets, small crews and small casts composed of largely non-professional actors working from and improvising around a more or less pre-written script. The non-professional nature of the actors and the improvisational aspects of the dialogue along with the tendency to frame character development in such a way that the audience has to draw its own inferences about the characters means that Mumblecore films frequently feel remarkably rough, realistic, unpolished and spontaneous. Mumblecore films invariably feel as though they simply ‘happen’; a stylistic tic also that owes quite a lot to the tendency to use 20-something actors and unglamorous settings that make it look as though the films might have been made in the director’s spare time.
Cold Weather is an attempt to move Mumblecore outside of its comfort zone by taking the aesthetics of spontaneous authenticity and fusing them with those of a cinematic genre that is defined by its careful plotting and its use of directorial technique to create a sense of tension. While this Mumblecore thriller never feels like more than the sum of its parts, it is difficult not to love a film that so perfectly understands the allure of a good mystery.