Winter Coat

By Werner Vivier | Drama
A young boy commits a petty crime that reveals a unique bond with his neighbor.

A woman and a young boy go out to lunch and run errands together in East London, wandering from their housing estate into the city. They chat about their days and their lives with ease and then buy a winter coat together.

But an act of petty crime reveals a much more subtle and intricate connection between the pair, one whose bond both persists and strengthens in difficult circumstances.

Writer-director Werner Vivier's short drama seems initially uneventful but in the most subtle ways. Much of the action is focused on the conversation between the woman and the child, and the storytelling ambles along with their friendly, warm back-and-forth. But this emphasis on the ordinariness and connection between the pair ultimately reveals its true richness and importance once their entire situation is unraveled, forming a powerful meditation on family, connection and what it means to be there for someone else.

Though essentially a two-hander in many ways, the short feels bigger, especially as Nathalie and Wayne go about their East London neighborhood and viewers can situate them in terms of social and economic status. Their dialogue is rich and skillful, with Nathalie taking an in-depth interest in Wayne that is compelling in its warmth, solicitousness, kindness and balance of concern and non-judgment. The impression between them is great trust and care, and clearly they mean a lot to one another.

Actors Angie Adler as Nathalie and Buddy Skelton as Wayne have an easygoing rapport with one another, making them a pleasure to watch and observe. They manage to feel highly specific as characters and universal in their evocation of the maternal bond, down to the very way Nathalie urges Wayne to finish his food, to his comical protest. But as the film unfolds into its conclusion, the truth is a little more complicated, though no less touching and even more important to a young child growing up in a challenging environment.

"Winter Coat" is not a film that relies on a twist, but the gradual full reveal of Wayne's background underscores what an extraordinary relationship he has with Nathalie. The film's true gift then becomes how it celebrates the power of the seemingly ordinary, almost mundane moments between them, one that we almost take for granted as examples of familial love and connection. We understand in the end how valuable this connection is for Wayne, and we also understand how seemingly simple yet truly remarkable the work of mothering is, and just what it means to have that in your life.

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