|FIRST WINTER (director/writer: Benjamin Dickinson; cinematographer: Adam Newport-Berra; editors: Jen Lame/Andrew Alan/Benjamin Dickinson; cast: Lindsay Burdge (Marie), Paul Manza (Paul), Jennifer Kim (Jen), Samantha Jacober (Sam), Matt Chastain (Matt); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Mark De Pace/Zachary Mortensen/Lindsay Burdge/Benjamin Dickinson; Ghost Robot; 2012)|
disturbing nightmare flick on the down side
of life on a hippie commune in the sticks."
by Dennis Schwartz
disturbing nightmare flick on the down side of life on
a hippie commune in the sticks. It's the enticing
debut film helmed by Benjamin Dickinson. He also
group of antsy Brooklynites start a commune
in a secluded farmhouse in upstate NY.
The de facto leader is the Jesus lookalike Paul
(Paul Manza, real-life yoga instructor), who teaches
yoga. There's a party mood, where drugs and free
love are commonplace. But there's also an
unpleasantness caused by bickering among the
members. When Matt (Matthew
Chastain) berates Paul for screwing the best
looking chicks, Paul blasts Matt for his heroin
get dire when supplies dwindle, the winter brings
on a record cold and the transplanted Brooklynites
seem lost when farming. When a blackout
occurs and the commune is completely cutoff from
the world, the members panic and turn on each
other. Though survival becomes of vital
importance, sexual conflict and snarky
relationships persist. Their leader Paul is more
interested in himself than the group. Paul ruffles
everyone's feathers when even though he is
sexually involved with Jen
(Jennifer Kim) and Sam (Samantha Jacober),
he shows a sudden interest in Marie
(Lindsay Burdge). When a station wagon of
hippies is sent to the nearest town for help and
they never return, things seem apocalyptic.
The pic tells us that for this commune, going back to live in nature eventually means facing the possibility of starvation, Old Testament judgments and facing morality issues that the hippies just never faced so openly when in the city.
Adam Newport-Berra’s hand-held cinematography tastefully captures the changes in the atmosphere. It might not be a pic to suit all tastes and the characters are not that sympathetic, but for the right viewer, willing to go with the flow, its depiction of rural commune life for unprepared city dwellers might hit most of the right chords.
REVIEWED ON 10/1/2015 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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