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Winter of Frozen Dreams
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Reviews & Ratings for
Winter of Frozen Dreams More at IMDbPro »

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28 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

More Thora Birch Please...

8/10
Author: inthesoup-4 from United States
7 April 2009

Having read the book on which film was based, I was initially unsure as to how the film makers would be able to piece this story into a mere hour and an half. After all, it is very difficult to meld all of the details of this intricate story into a concise, yet still intriguing film. In my opinion this film pulled it off brilliantly.

I particularly liked the casting. Thora Birch was great and has really come into her own as an actress. Why she is not a bigger star, baffles me. Keith Carradine was fun to watch, as he has been in so many of the roles he has had in his long career, and Brendan Sexton is certainly a young actor to keep our eye on.

What impressed me most was the fact that this film looks like it was shot in the time period it is portraying. It does not look like some glossy Hollywood piece trying to represent a period in which most of those involved probably barely remember. I did however find the use of heavy color saturation to represent the flash backs difficult to follow at first.

All in all, I really enjoyed this film. It is not your average Hollywood fare and that is just the type of movie I want to see.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

More character study than suspense/murder mystery

8/10
Author: bham_man34 from United States
15 August 2009

This is not your typical murder mystery but rather a portrait based somewhat on conjecture of alleged murderess Barbara Hoffman. It's one of those movies that leaves things open-ended as far as what actually happened and what motivated the characters' actions. Also, the film's perspective and time-line both shift with no easily discernible pattern. The focus is really on the enigmatic personality of the main character and to a lesser extent that of her strange boyfriend. The chills and thrills are more of the intellectual sort than the edge-of-your-seat draw of a typical thriller. In a nutshell, the film is subtle. It's also very well-made. The acting is superb, the 70's sets and costumes spot on, the outdoor scenery appropriately stark, and the editing, which can be very tricky in a film of this nature, works really well. My one complaint was the courtroom scene at the beginning of the film. I would have preferred the suspense of not knowing the verdict until the end of the film. Other than that, it's an interesting film that ponders the mysteries of the human psyche, and well worth watching.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

a B movie thats better than many so called major films,

8/10
Author: Jay Harris (sirbossman6969@yahoo.com) from United States
10 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is not a major film by any means. It is a good, well made & acted minor thriller, that deserved a better release & treatment from the critics & distributors.

It only played in one theatre for only one week this past April.

With some decent advertising & proper promotion it would have done much better.

The story is based on a real life murder case in Madison Wisconsin the 1970', & it does have the feel to it. Thora Burch is the main character & she proves to be quite good in a hard to do role. Newcomer Brendon Sexton 111 is fine as the young man involved. Veteran star Keith Carrqdine is the chief police investigator & as usual he delivers.

There are no car chases or explosion, next to no nudity or bad language.It is not a film for children & that is the only reason for its R rating. At times its a wee bit hard to follow, but stay with it, as It fast moving.

Rent this, I am sure you will agree with me.

Ratings: *** (out of 4) 86 points (out of 100) IMDb 8 (out of 10)

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13 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Terrific, suspenseful murder mystery

9/10
Author: eleeob from New York
22 May 2009

Thora Birch made a vivid impression with her talent, her carefully flat affect and her poetic appearance in "American Beauty". Now, in "Winter of Frozen Dreams", all three qualities are back on display. Her ghostly complexion haunts the film, in which she is the centerpiece femme fatale.

The film, set in a small town in mid-winter, has an unusually strong sense of colour and a very successful handling of visuals overall. Both the anti-heroine and the landscape from which she emerges are carefully pictured and scorchingly cold.

Keith Carradine wins out with dialogue, as the jaded detective about to retire. His character follows the trail of Thora Birch with one wry remark, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, after another.

As a portrait of a brilliant psychopath, the film kept me rooted to the spot as I studied Birch's careful depiction.

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

who's afraid of Thora Birch?

5/10
Author: tracyfigueira from United States
3 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This thoroughly mediocre movie was a lot less fun than I thought it would be, and it left me with a bad aftertaste. Telling the unbelievable but apparently true story of a Black Widow/Lolita (Thora Birch) who seduces men, then murders them for their insurance money, it played like a bush-league rip-off of "Fargo." "Winter of Frozen Dreams" is memorable, if at all, for Keith Carradine's eccentric detective, a cross between Columbo and McCloud, and for Thora Birch's performance. The former child star and indie princess of such films as "American Beauty" and "Ghost World" has blossomed into a woman of devastating beauty, sensuality, and intelligence, and she dominated every frame she was in. Her character, Barbara Hoffmann, still languishes in prison serving a life sentence for murder. She supposedly had an IQ of 145--genius level--but you couldn't tell from this movie. All the characters seemed pretty stupid, her included. The film left some doubt as to her guilt. Was the aging detective just looking to make one spectacular bust before riding off into the sunset? That was just one of many questions this provocative but ultimately unsatisfying film left unanswered.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Why did they make this movie?

4/10
Author: MBunge from Waterloo, Iowa
29 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Winter of Frozen Dreams is based on a sensational Wisconsin murder case in the late 1970s. But while it may have been a big story in the local media back then, this film does nothing at all to convey any of that importance or appeal. These filmmakers manage to conjure up one interesting character, but fail to find anything interesting about the murders, the investigation or the trial. They also couldn't come up with any larger point to this story, leaving you to wonder why they bothered to make this movie.

Perhaps realizing that they didn't have a point or an compelling story to tell, these filmmakers largely construct this film around the narrative technique of the flashback. It starts in 1980, with the verdicts being read in two murder charges against Barbara Hoffman (Thora Birch), then flashes back to 1977 and bald, middle-aged loser Harry Bergee coming home from work in the winter. The story then jumps forward to Jerry Davies (Bredan Sexton III) leading the cops to Bergee's dead body in a snow bank. As aging detective Chuck Lulling (Keith Carradine) rather ineffectually investigates Harry's death, more flashbacks are used to fill in the details of the relationship between Barbara, Jerry and Harry. Barbara was a brilliant college student who dropped out and became a prostitute. Harry was one of her johns that Barbara convinced to leave her everything in his will. Jerry is Barbara's supposed boyfriend that she summons to her home one night, telling him that she found Harry's dead body in her bathroom. Barbara blames her pimp (Dean Winters) for dumping Harry's body on her. After the story meanders along with no sense of any forward movement and some confusion over whether you're watching a flashback or a flashback within a flashback, Winter of Frozen dreams eventually turns on the question on whether Jerry's love for Barbara is more important to him than anything, even his own life.

That little recap I just wrote is about 87% more fascinating than the actual film. This thing is slow and lifeless. Though it has many scenes with Detective Lulling, it does an awful job of telling the story of the police investigation. At one point, Barbara is arrested by the police and there's absolutely no explanation given for why she was arrested at that point or what evidence the arrest was based on. The impression given is that these Wisconsin cops were just sitting around, eating donuts and waiting for someone to confess.

The movie is not much better at dealing with these characters. Barbara begins the story as a beautiful enigma and never becomes more than that. In his only significant scenes, Harry might as well have "victim" tattooed on his forehead. Detective Lulling looks like he was pressed out of the same cookie cutter that's produced every aging-cop-close-to-retirement in a jillion other crime dramas. Most of the 50some other characters in the film don't even have names, let alone their own personalities.

The only character with anything going for him is Jerry. He's essentially a younger version of the sort of loser that Harry became and he thinks that Barbara coming into his life is the best thing that every has or will happen to him. There's a part of the story where Jerry takes Barbara home to meet his mom, and the silent resentment between mother and son helps you to understand why Jerry feels like having Barbara somehow redeems his sorry existence. And when Jerry starts to figure out that Barbara isn't what he convinced himself she was, Brendan Sexton III does a nice job letting us see Jerry's need for her battle against his meager self-respect. However, the movie never spends enough time with Jerry to make his part of this tale more than mildly engaging.

According to information on the DVD, this case was the first televised murder trial in the history of Wisconsin. Yet that part of the story is totally ignored. There's also no effort made to connect this story to any larger perspective on where or when it occurred or give any reason whatsoever for why this particular murder case should ever have been made into a film.

Winter of Frozen Dreams isn't really a bad film so much as it's an unnecessary one. It's competently made but did not need to be made. The use of flashbacks to try and make the story appear more complicated than it was doesn't fix that problem. I f you're a Wisconsinite who remembers the Hoffman murder trial, you might find it vaguely entertaining. There's not enough here for anyone else to enjoy.

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Good performances, cheap look

4/10
Author: bob-larrance from hillsboro, Oregon
4 April 2014

Thora Birch is a pretty good performer. I don't know how she got roped into this project, perhaps boredom? Clearly, not for the money.

Overall, the acting is a bit above average. The story is solid, with a few nice twists. If you are into it for only average plus acting and a neat little screenplay then maybe this is your thing.

But, where the movie truly suffers is in production. Bad lighting, lousy camera work, below average editing, all those little things that might have completed the project nicely are just not very good.

I wonder if the stated budget here is correct, $1,000,000? To be honest, these days that is a bit beneath chump change for a film. But, if that number is true then another mystery solved, Why is Winter of Frozen Dreams so not-very-good? You get what you pay for.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Winter of Frozen Dreams Never Really Thaws Out *1/2

4/10
Author: edwagreen from United States
16 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Stiff film that's confusing at times. Thora Birch portrays a college drop-out with an IQ of 145 who drops out to become a prostitute.

She meets up with an ugly older man who she will kill after getting him to sign everything over to her.

The film deals with her continuous suspicion of her boyfriend, the latter helping her in disposing of the body. She uses two names which is never fully explained and has an assortment of hoodlum like guys on the side.

Keith Carradine portrays the older detective on the case. At the beginning he announces that he will not retire as he wouldn't know what to do with himself. By the middle of the film, without explanation, he talks that this will be his last case as he is retiring. With a poor script like this, he shouldn't have ventured into this production to begin with.

Actress Thora Birch displays a cold veneer as the sadistic killer. By the way, why did she really use 2 names?

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