By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on June 10, 2023)
It took me a while to get into the rhythm of this quirky comedy-drama, which begins with a nod to Savage Steve Holland (palpable Better Off Dead energy) then pivots into a more angsty realm (as in Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm). Adapted from Chuck Klosterman’s eponymous novel by writer-director Hamish Linklater (no relation to Richard), the story is set during the winter of 1983-1984 in a North Dakota burg (where everybody is up in everyone else’s business).
Julia (Lily Rabe) is a 40-ish, recently engaged, self-described “restless” soul who has just moved to Owl to take a teaching position at a high school. Episodic; we observe Julia over a period of several months as she acclimates to her new environs. She strikes up a friendship with a melancholy neighbor (Ed Harris) and pursues a crush on a laconic buffalo rancher (I told you it was quirky). There’s a sullen high school quarterback, and a pregnant teen (it’s a rule). All threads converge when a record-breaking blizzard descends on the sleepy hamlet. A bit uneven, but it grew on me.