Directed by: Katherine Dieckmann
Premise: Darcy (Holly Hunter) discovers new information about the suicide of her college-age son. She sets out to confront her son’s college friends including one of them who may have stolen his business plan and turned it into a successful chain of restaurants.
What Works: Strange Weather is a drama about a woman trying to make sense out of a senseless event. Seven years on from her son’s suicide, Darcy learns that one of her son’s college friends stole his business plan for a chain of family restaurants and implemented it into a successful franchise, going as far as plagiarizing the mother and son’s childhood memories in the company’s advertising copy. Darcy sets out to get to the bottom of the matter by tracking down her son’s college friends as well as a few other people who have been a part of her life. Her journey is about coping with grief and specifically her frustration about not recognizing her son’s problems until it was too late. But Darcy’s journey is also about figuring out who her son actually was. Strange Weather is about puzzling together someone else’s identity. Darcy had an idea of who her son was but that idea was shattered by his suicide. Her interviews with her son’s college friends and others is about reconstructing an idea of who he was but it’s also an attempt to lay blame for his death somewhere and thereby restore some semblance of order. The movie deals with that in a way that is smart but also compassionate. Strange Weather is led by Holly Hunter as Darcy and she provides a terrific performance. Hunter does this kind of role well and Darcy is a complex character. Her grief hangs over the movie like a fog but there are nevertheless moments of levity and life and Darcy is revealed to be a complicated person. Her intentions on the trip are unclear, perhaps even to Darcy herself, and Holly Hunter’s intensity, grief, and passion gives the movie a vibrant and unpredictable center.
What Doesn’t: There are a few incredulous plot points in Strange Weather, mostly involving the business plan. Darcy character gets a copy of her son’s business plan through an unlikely series of events and then loses it in an arbitrary and dubious set of circumstances. It’s a forced bit of storytelling in a movie that is otherwise natural. The only other point of reservation about Strange Weather is the ending. A lot of movies are about righting a wrong and Strange Weather is certainly on that trajectory. However, the revelation in the climax upends that expectation. It’s the right ending for this story but it does not necessarily deliver the kind of closed and happy resolution that’s usually found in a Hollywood movie.
DVD extras: None.
Bottom Line: Strange Weather was one of the underappreciated titles of 2017. Both the movie and actress Holly Hunter deserve more recognition than this film accrued. Now that Strange Weather is available on disc it is worth seeking out.
Episode: #688 (March 4, 2018)