Director Aaron Katz has made a name in crafting heartfelt examinations of the human condition. His previous films Dance Party USA and Quiet City exhibited a delicate exuberance free from the contrariety of Hollywood, proving refreshing character studies of youth in all its neurotic glory. Katz’ trend of serving up Lo-fi exposition is continued with his latest film, Cold Weather, although its grandiose scope displays a much more focused approach to filmmaking and storytelling.
Affectionately dubbed ‘Sherlock Holmes goes Hipster’, Cold Weather’s indie noir tale follows forensic sciences dropout Doug and his search for missing ex-girlfriend Rachael. With the aid of Sister Gail and co-worker Carlos, Doug employs his love of detective fiction in uncovering Gail’s whereabouts and the seedy underworld with which she has become involved. Katz’ hometown of Portland, Oregon offers a perfect backdrop to Doug’s enthralling investigation. Eternally rain-swept and blanketed in dusk, the city is as much a character as those who occupy it. Every washed out nook and cranny is explored as the narratives breadcrumb trail leads you through ice factories, seedy motels and coastal retreats. It is often quite startlingly just how stylistically accomplished of a film Cold Weather is, Katz’ love for his hometown bleeding out onto the screen.
Despite all the ambitious flourishes, the true heart of the story lies with sibling sleuths, Doug and Gail. Their relationship is consistently playful and touching without descending into melodrama and languishing in sentimentality; their exchanges highlighting Katz’ gift for characterisation, although, due to the romantic leaning of his previous work, there are moments when you could be forgiven for expecting a vaguely incestuous moment to breakout. Notable mention also goes to composer Keegan Dewitt and his percussive pots and pans score which helps ramp up the tension when the film needs it most.