Reviews: California Winter

Lee reviews California Winter, a type of companion piece to The Big Short. 

All out of tacos? No fair. 
The housing crash of 2008 devastated millions of families. While many fought desperately to save their homes that were spiraling into foreclosure, banks fought back with little compassion, flexing their corporate power. This is the backbone of California Winter

The film stars Elizabeth Dominguez as Clara Morales, a young real estate agent who unexpectedly falls victim to the very same economic problem she helped cause. The film isn’t an eye for an eye story, or a fantastical moral revenge plot. California Winter’s focus is guilt and the consequence of blind naivety. Dominguez is fantastic, tackling a bilingual English/ Spanish role that is a rollercoaster of emotions. Television veteran A Martinez co-stars as Clara’s father with an equally passionate performance. The two have a great father/ daughter chemistry, and their scenes together are very natural. California Winter is often heartbreaking. It is a heavy subject matter, but it doesn’t go overboard in getting it’s points across. Writer/ Director Odin Ozdil presents the sad reality of family eviction in all it’s cruel honesty. It’s an impressive film debut for a director, especially considering the bulk of Ozdil film experience is as a set grip and electrical technician. 

See where you signed here? That means you
sold your soul to Chase Bank. 
While recent Oscar contender The Big Short showcases the downfall from a big bank perspective, California Winter makes for a great companion piece that puts viewers in the character’s struggling shoes. The cast as a whole is near perfect, with most nailing their roles with heart open emotion, and that is the defining success of this film. Many screenplays look great on paper, but to convey real emotion is a gift, and each actor involved deserves credit for their part. 

Overall, it’s a relatable film for anyone who has struggled financially. It’s an unsettling story, and nothing is candy coated for the sake of film. It is a realistic presentation, pulling the audience through the “what if that was me?” scenario. The ending is anything but typical, but could come off as confusing. It does little in the way of resolution, but given the subject, it mirrors the fear of the unknown in personal crisis. Yet at its roots, it highlights the importance of family in adversity. It isn’t the driving force of the film, nor is it presented in typical Hallmark movie fashion. Like the majority of the film, it is grounded with struggling realism. California Winter isn’t a movie based on a real story, but its presentation is done so well, it could easily be interpreted as one. Ozdil’s feature film debut is a memorable story that never get too ahead of itself. It gives just enough to keep wanting more, no matter how frightening the outcome might be.    

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-Lee L. Lind