EARLY WINTER’s laconic narrative naturally evolves between the family home and the aged care unit where David works as a janitor. He is a good listener, and several people at his workplace confide in him, but his own life is impenetrable to those around him. Only when we see his enormous but secret compassion for a dying elderly woman do we feel the depth of his own desperation.
“It depends on the story, but I prefer more subtle things. So yeah, in the case of this film and the last one (THE WELL), I’ve taken a much slower, quieter, and less in-your-face approach to it, I think. Still very much my own techniques and my own aesthetic, but without the shock value.”
“My first impression was that the script had great power and potency in its subtleties,” recalls Suzanne Clément. “It was almost impressionistic, but the story itself was very strong. Thankfully, I had seen LEAP YEAR, Michael’s first film. That helped me grasp the tone. It all unfolded with such subtlety – through unspoken cues, with little fanfare.”
For Serge Noël, producer, EARLY WINTER is clearly destined to be an author project – a minimalist drama. Michael seems most comfortable as a director of really intimate cinema. I even sense there is something of Scenes from a marriage of Bergman in his work and especially in EARLY WINTER. He looks into our most elemental weaknesses, our frailties, our lack of courage. He is a Bergman of our modern times. There is no attempt made to cover up what has been revealed through dialogue, or to save face after the lies are uncovered. The characters’ true nature are not hidden by words.
Reading through a draft of the screenplay, Paul Doucet was taken aback by Michael Rowe’s sharp narrative instincts. “With very, very simple things, he’s able to tell a story and give us a slice of everyday life that you rarely see. It felt like I was a witness to someone’s life – the crudeness and simplicity of it.” Doucet talks of being floored by Rowe’s fearlessness in seeing some of EARLY WINTER’s most difficult scenes through. “It’s very bold, very crude, and it takes a lot of courage to tell a story like that. It’s the kind of material that I want to work on, that I want to see, that I want to do.”
Producer Trish Lake believes Rowe’s uncanny ability to hit some kind of emotional bull’s eye has to do with the director working in total communion with actors to bring his vision to life. “Audiences feel like they’re seeing something that’s almost private, something that they’re not going to see in most films. There’s an almost documentary approach to how he conveys the situation of the characters and what is motivating them. As an audience, to be able to experience that is quite unique, and that’s not always achievable, no matter all the smoke and mirrors that we use in making films »