Winter Solstice | 2005
Jim Winters is a widower raising two teenage sons in a modest New Jersey home where the unspoken presence of the boys' mother--killed in a car accident five years earlier--lingers with a quiet intensity. Gabe, the oldest son, wants nothing more than to get out of the New Jersey suburbs and start a new life in Florida, even if it means leaving behind his girlfriend Stacey, his younger brother Peter and his father, who has tried to be strong for his boys, but still clearly misses his wife. Jim doesn't have a clue that Gabe wants to leave town. He's busy trying to run a small landscaping business and keeps Pete on track to finish high school, something at which Pete's teacher Mr. Bricker is working hard as well. Pete is increasingly restless and at odds with nearly everyone around him. He's certainly not about to open up about surviving the crash that took his mother, and his father and brother aren't comfortable enough to let out their emotions about her very "present" absence either. The emotional impasse is about to be bridged when Molly Ripken moves into the quiet little community to housesit for a friend. Molly borrows a dolly from Jim, and when she returns it, she invites him and his boys to dinner as a gesture of thanks. With this subtle act of boldness, Molly ignites a spark in Jim that he'd long since let die. When the night of the dinner rolls around, the boys ditch their dad so he is forced to go alone. It turns out that a meal alone with Molly helps crack open this man of steel and gets him to start shedding his "super dad" front. It hasn't been easy being both parents and confiding in Molly unleashes Jim's frustrations, gets him talking about his past, and starts preparing him for his present. After dinner, Jim returns home to find his boys still out. He decides that if they want independence, he's going to help them. In fact, if they want to stay out all night, they can sleep out all night too; and with that, he tosses their mattresses and bedding on the front lawn. In the morning, the reality of Gabe's decision to leave home and Pete's growing rebelliousness still linger, but Jim's got a new spring in his step.