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Originally published Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 3:02 PM

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Movie review

'Cold Weather': an offbeat detective story is in the forecast

A review of Aaron Katz's "Cold Weather," which has some wonderful moments marred by odd pacing. Featured are Cris Lankenau, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Raúl Castillo and Robyn Rikoon.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review2.5 stars

'Cold Weather,' with Cris Lankenau, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Raúl Castillo, Robyn Rikoon. Written and directed by Aaron Katz. 97 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Northwest Film Forum, through Thursday.

A sort of mumblecore noir, Aaron Katz's "Cold Weather" has some wonderful moments that nearly get lost in the film's odd pacing. For roughly the first 40 minutes, almost nothing happens. We meet Doug (Cris Lankenau), who's moved into the Portland apartment of his sister Gail (Trieste Kelly Dunn) after dropping out of college, and then meet Doug's work mate Carlos (Raúl Castillo) and his ex-girlfriend Rachel (Robyn Rikoon). This takes place through a series of long, droopy, sometimes wordless scenes (people silently driving, or sitting, or sleeping), while we wait for something, anything, to break the lethargy. Some of these shots are lovely — particularly one of Doug and Gail at an ocean beach, and one of them on a bridge before a waterfall — but they take us nowhere, and the few conversations we hear are mostly on the level of "What's going on?" "Not much." Indeed.

And then, just at the point of losing its audience, a nifty little film suddenly emerges. Doug, a vague sort with a background in forensic science (he studied it in college) and a fondness for Sherlock Holmes, stumbles on a mystery: Rachel's disappearance, complete with an abandoned motel room, a perplexing code left behind and, somewhere, a briefcase full of loot. Channeling his inner Sherlock (he even, hilariously, gets a pipe), Doug is invigorated as he follows Rachel's trail — and, as he does so, an appealing parallel story emerges of a pair of siblings becoming a team. And Katz (a Portland native now living in Pittsburgh) and director of photography Andrew Reed find poetry in Portland's rainy sidewalks and moody clouds.

You wish the movie would do a little more with Doug's workplace (he's employed at an ice factory, which seems like the setup for something intriguing but isn't), and that it didn't end quite so abruptly, but "Cold Weather" ultimately emerges as a nicely offbeat detective story. Stick with this movie, despite the slow start; it goes places.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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