Caroline (Julie Gayet), a young photographer trying to get over a personal tragedy, wanders out into the winter's night and ends up on a bridge over a river. Caring little for her own safety, she climbs onto the wall and looks over into the murky depths, then begins to walk along it, balancing precariously until she starts to fall... Elsewhere, Michael (Jamie Sives) is a quantum physicist working in the field of astronomy at Edinburgh Observatory and is conducting an observation on a distant anomaly in deep space that might just prove the unprovable. While out with his girlfriend at the cinema one night, she can't wait to leave although he enjoys the film, but all thoughts of that are banished when he catches sight of Caroline across the foyer. He will see her again...
As this is a Scottish film, shouldn't it have been called A Wummin in Winter? Anyway, Richard Jobson wrote as well as directed this science fiction romance on a low budget that deals with parallel worlds yet goes out of its way to keep its secrets. For the most part, it is indeed a wintry, subdued piece although the habit of punctuating the low key drama with extravagant views of stars and space phenomena, while decorative, could have done without the frequent booms that presumably serve to jolt the audience out of their trance-like state. Shot on video but appearing cinematic nevertheless, the message is a dewy-eyed "love is all that matters" bolstered by its fuzzy understanding of the unknown.
You can tell this was written by a film buff, as the next time Michael encounters Caroline she is browsing the shelves of a department store's DVD section, and the enchanted physicist follows her around until she turns and notices him. Not perturbed by his behaviour, they get to chatting and she persuades Michael to let her take his photograph, then one thing leads to another and they settle at his flat, getting to know each other even better. Or at least, she gets to know him as he isn't even told her surname and feels she is keeping information from him. His previous girlfriend forgotten, Michael is drawn into a mystery that apparently has connections what is happening in deep space.
Although, how they could be parallel when the light from the stars we see have taken hundreds, thousands of years to reach us isn't explained, but then, neither is a lot of what goes on in A Woman in Winter. In fact, despite all the romantic conundrums the film stays curiously undramatic as a fatalism develops where Michael is following his own destiny along with that of Caroline's. She has lost a partner and a baby, she says, one after the other, and when Michael finds a business card from a psychiatrist, Dr Hunt (Brian Cox), he wonders if she's lost her marbles as well. Visiting the doctor, he tells him that he had a French patient called Caroline, but she is older than the one Michael is seeing. Yet somehow, could they be one and the same? Is our protagonist filling a role he took in a parallel world, one which will play out in this dimension? The finale may be predictable, but the reflective air saves it, and this is interesting as a British film tackling material usually reserved for the likes of Continental Europe. Music by Vincent Watts.
[Tartan's Region 2 DVD has a director's commentary, a making of featurette and a music video as extras.]