WINTER SOLSTICE tells the tale of small steps taken in the aftermath of family loss. Landscape gardener Jim Winters (LaPaglia) is a quiet craftsman, a soft-spoken man who prefers an orderly life. His family, however, is anything but orderly. Older son Gabe (Stanford) is planning his escape to Florida, leaving behind any shot at a stable future with his girlfriend. Younger son Pete (Webber) has retreated into a private world of anger, drift and disappointment. It is only when he meets his new neighbor, Molly (Janney), that Jim finds a way to deal with his own life and his family’s future.
Title aside, Winter Solstice is set in the spring and summer of a small, pretty, and dull Northeastern town. Anthony LaPaglia eases comfortably into the role of a widower anxious about his two teenage boys growing up and slipping away from him in Josh Sternfeld's low-key drama. While the eldest (Aaron Stanford) yearns for something more, or at least something different, his younger brother (Mark Webber) is the poster child for underachievers: Unfocused and distracted, wound up yet unmotivated. Sternfeld creates a lovely texture of naturalism and the boys create a convincing brotherly vibe in shared glances and private jokes, but the lulling rhythms take over the film, even when Allison Janney arrives with her low-key nervous energy.