Despite its chilly name Cold Weather is the cinematic equivalent of soaking in a hot tub.
In this hipster delight, Sherlock Holmes-loving slacker Doug (Chris Lankenau) is roused from an aimless round of night shifts at the local ice factory when his ex-girlfriend abruptly disappears. Warming to the puzzle, he forms an unlikely Holmes-Watson duo with Carlos (Raul Castillo,) a part time DJ and fellow 'ice professional' – not that his sister Gail (Trieste Kelly Dunn) is content to be Mrs Hudson.
Truth to tell, it's the sort of conundrum the great pipe-smoking detective would solve over breakfast, but writer/director Aaron Katz uses it as an occasion to muse engagingly on the way in which life's curve-balls can galvanize time-dulled relationships.
At the centre of the film is the undernourished bond between Doug – a one-time forensics student who feels compelled to let everything slide – and Gail, a timid and uptight nine-to-fiver. Sharing a flat, the two barely acknowledge each other, but the filial connection is evident in their nerdy lack of poise and rubber-boned mannerisms.
As the practically somnambulist Doug, Lankenau has a ramshackle charm that recalls Mark Ruffalo, while Dunn does wonders with a part that has to be created mainly in reaction shots. It isn't until towards the end of the second act that the two finally share a moment of wary intimacy, and that's because they are stuck on a dull stake-out with nothing better to do.
The sudden rush of confidences after what seems like a life-long silence is totally credible, and is a good example of Katz's skill at refreshing genre clichés with an awkward realism.
On the downside, the effect is more Nancy Drew than Sherlock Holmes. And looking at some of the hoary plot devices he deploys, you'd have to say Katz gets away with murder. Similarly, the opening half hour may have a point to make about the blighting effect of boredom upon relationships, but it coasts a bit on quirky charm and indie cred.
These caveats aside, despite its chilly name Cold Weather is the cinematic equivalent of soaking in a hot tub – an easy-going movie in the vein of Woody Allen's Manhattan Murder Mystery, with understated chuckles, relaxed interplay from the leads, cosily gloomy Oregon locations and a tenderly mocking score by Keegan DeWitt.