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Winter Passing

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Director  Adam Rapp
Initial DVD release  May 16, 2006
Country  U.S.
6.4/10 IMDb

Genre  Comedy, Drama
Music director  John Kimbrough
Writer  Adam Rapp
Language  English
Winter Passing movie poster
Release date  2005
Cast  Zooey Deschanel (Reese Holden), Will Ferrell (Corbit), Ed Harris (Don Holden), Amy Madigan (Lori Lansky), Amelia Warner (Shelly)
Similar movies  Jupiter Ascending, Pitch Perfect 2, The Last Witch Hunter, Frozen, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers
Tagline  Sometimes you go looking for something you want. . . and find what you need.

Tired of struggling to be an actress, Reese Holden (Zooey Deschanel) leaves New York and returns to her Michigan home. She has a cash advance from a book editor who wants to publish the love letters of Reeses parents. Reese has a strained relationship with her dad, a washed-up novelist, but she enters the household he shares with an ex-student and a shy friend who takes care of domestic matters.


Winter Passing movie scenes

Winter Passing is a 2005 American film. It is the directorial debut of playwright Adam Rapp, also known for his work on the show The L Word. The film stars Zooey Deschanel and Ed Harris, with supporting performances by Will Ferrell and Amelia Warner. The film premiered in 2005 to mixed reviews, and was not released in the United Kingdom until 2013, when it was released under the new title Happy Endings.

Winter Passing movie scenes

Actress Reese Holden has been offered a small fortune by a book editor if she can secure for publication the love letters that her father, a reclusive novelist, wrote to her mother, who has since passed away. Returning to Michigan, Reese finds that an ex-grad student and a would-be musician have moved in with her father, who cares more about his new friends than he does about his own health and well-being.


Winter Passing movie scenes A scene from the 2005 movie Winter Passing perfectly captures the cluttered chaos that too many make that way too many books can bring to a house

Reese Holdin (Deschanel) is a depressed bartender/actress living in New York City. She regularly engages in casual sex, cocaine use and self-mutilation. When a publishing agent (Amy Madigan) approaches her, we learn that Reese is the daughter of a famous author named Don Holdin (Harris); and that her mother, Mary, recently died. Reese did not attend the funeral. The publisher offers the impecunious Reese $100,000 for a series of letters written between her mother and father at the height of their careers. When Reese learns that the kitten she rescued from the streets is dying of feline leukemia, she drowns it and buys a bus ticket.

Winter Passing movie scenes 5 Winter Passing 2005

Despite such family tensions, Reese travels to Michigans Upper Peninsula to retrieve the letters. Returning to her childhood home, she finds it occupied by Corbit (Ferrell), a down-and-out Christian musician, and Shelley (Warner), a 23-year-old former student of Dons. Reeses father now lives, writes and drinks in his garage. Reese initially clashes with the doting Shelley (whom she accuses of sleeping with her father) but eventually accepts her after learning of the death of her parents and of Dons support of her during a near-fatal bout with endometriosis. She also bonds with the idiosyncratic Corbit, who spurns her sexual advances and has trouble playing guitar and singing at the same time. She feels out of place at home and fights with her father over childhood neglect, stating that her parents gave their typewriters more attention. She eventually finds the box of letters and, reading the emotional communiques, learns to empathize with her estranged parents. Shelly has also read the letters and asks Reese if she intends to publish them. Reese expresses ambiguity over the matter.

Don Holdin is still grieving over his wifes death. He keeps the tie she hanged herself with in a dresser in the backyard along with the rest of their bedroom suite, including their bed. He sometimes sleeps in the bed despite the bitter cold of winter. Reese starts to connect with Corbit and Shelly and is honest with her father about her reasons for staying away from the funeral. Soon after, Don overdoses on pills, and Reese finds him unconscious. He recovers in the hospital, where Reese sits by his bed and reads his latest manuscript, Golf, which he had Corbit bury in the yard. The experience helps the father and daughter find closure, and Reese buries the box of letters in place of the novel before returning to New York.


  • Zooey Deschanel as Reese Holdin
  • Ed Harris as Don Holdin
  • Will Ferrell as Corbit
  • Amelia Warner as Shelly
  • Mary Jo Deschanel as Mary
  • Amy Madigan as Lori Lansky
  • Michael Chernus as Ben
  • Deirdre OConnell as Deirdre
  • Similar Movies

    Secretary (2002). Ed Harris appears in Winter Passing and The Hours. Deirdre OConnell appears in Winter Passing and Imaginary Heroes. Fireflies in the Garden (2008). The Judge (2014).


    Some film critics have voiced suspicions that one or more of the films characters are based on famous personages. New York Times film and music critic Stephen Holden suggests J.D. Salinger, Sylvia Plath, Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, Ted Hughes and Ernest Hemingway as possible bases for Reeses parents. Film critic Roger Ebert suggests Frederick Exley as the most likely basis for Dons character. The name "Holdin" could derive from Holden Caulfield, Salingers most famous character, while the Holdin family history is reminiscent of Salingers own family as described in his daughters memoir Dream Catcher.

    Winter Passing is the only film to date known to speak of Traverse City, Michigan. It was included in the 2006 Traverse City Film Festival for this reason, winning an award for "Best Use of the Words Traverse City in a Feature Film."


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