Blu-ray Review: Chilly Scenes of Winter

By , Contributor
Here's an oddity from Twilight Time: Chilly Scenes of Winter, a 1979 romance originally released under the title Head Over Heels. Neither title really fits this thing, the former suggesting a Bergman-esque drama and the latter evoking a carefree comedy. Chilly Scenes has, in fact, been described as a 'romantic comedy,' but that's more for lack of a more appropriate genre categorization than accuracy. Director Joan Micklin Silver keeps the tone excessively neutral, leading to difficulty sympathizing with Charles (John Heard) and Laura (Mary Beth Hurt).

Told in non-linear fashion, Micklin Silver charts the fling between single Charles and married Laura. We see happier times between the pair mixed with the depression Charles endures following their breakup. He wants her to leave her husband (Mark Metcalf) and when it appears the marriage has gone south, Charles makes his move to rekindle things. If this doesn't sound especially comedic, it's not—Micklin Silver doesn't mine the situation for humor. Heard plays Charles so steely and calculating, he almost comes off as a sociopath. It's not at all easy to find a reason to relate to Charles' desire to reunite with Laura. Not helping matters is that Laura is just as dull as Charles, if maybe a bit more likable thanks to Hurt's agreeable performance.

Peter Riegert has a few nice moments as Charles' layabout friend Sam. But a subplot involving Charles' mother Clara (Gloria Grahame) and her struggle with dementia feels like it belongs in a different movie. Or maybe it should've been the focus of this one. Charles' prickly relationship with Clara's second husband Pete (Kenneth McMillan) results in some of the chilliest scenes in Chilly Scenes and closer examination may have yielded interesting results.

Bobby Byrne's cinematography looks good in 1080p on Twilight Time's Blu-ray. Ken Lauber's cheesy score sounds good (in terms of fidelity, not taste—it's more like TV music of the era) on the DTS-HD MA mono track. You can hear it isolated on an alternate track. Twilight Time has also included a commentary by director Joan Micklin Silver and producer Amy Robinson (Teresa in Mean Streets).

Chilly Scenes of Winter is a limited edition release (3,000 units) and is available at Screen Archives or the official Twilight Time site.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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