Life in a small town is always hard, but what about a small town that’s about to be hit with a once-in-a-lifetime snowstorm? That’s what the citizens of Owl, North Dakota are about to experience in the winter of 1984. This snowstorm - and the leadup to it - brings together three very different people: nostalgic football fan Horace (Ed Harris), newbie teacher Julia (Lily Rabe), and depressed quarterback Mitch (August Blanco Rosenstein).
Rabe teams up with her real-life husband, Hamish Linklater, to adapt Chuck Klosterman’s acclaimed 2008 novel for the duo’s directorial debut. Thanks to Linklater’s script and an ensemble cast that includes Henry Golding and a delightfully out-of-type Vanessa Hudgens, Downtown Owl harkens back to the anxieties and isolation of Reagan-era Middle America while looking towards a better future. Equal parts contemplative drama and quirky comedy, this unlikely crowd-pleaser proves that sometimes, the people you need most in your life are the people you’d least expect.––Jarod Neece