Winter | A compelling portrait of grief and addiction from first-time writer-director Heidi Greensmith

Winter Heidi Greensmith Tommy Flanagan
(Image credit: © Carnaby Street Entertainment)

Winter Heidi Greensmith Tommy Flanagan

Love. Grief. Devotion.

British writer-director Heidi Greensmith’s impressive debut feature Winter tackles the issues of addiction, mental illness and grief with robust sensitivity.

Her low-budget independent film does a good job, moreover, of challenging our preconceptions. At first sight, Tommy Flanagan’s protagonist appears to be a bedraggled, drunken vagrant. Second impressions, however, are hardly any more favourable. A once successful artist, he is boorish, belligerent and self-destructive, repeatedly diving into the bottle while his 19-year-old elder son (Tom Payne) puts his own life on hold to act as his carer and his 14-year-old younger son (Bill Milner) languishes in care.

Yet as the movie unfolds we come to understand the causes of his emotional breakdown and uncover our empathy. With her camera sticking claustrophobically close to the actors, Greensmith’s film is sometimes an uncomfortable watch. But Flanagan’s terrific lead performance makes it a compelling one, too.

Certificate 15. Runtime 88 mins. Director Heidi Greensmith

Winter debuts on Sky Cinema Premiere on Monday 3 April.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.