Some may call filmmaker Tom Gilroy old fashioned. His sensibilities tend to reference a style of storytelling that’s very much connected to the past. Take his new feature film, The Cold Lands: the film tells the story of teenager Atticus (newcomer Silas Yelich) whose single mom (the always marvelous Lili Taylor) dies suddenly. Silas takes to the woods like Henry David Thoreau to escape civilization only to meet up with a kindred spirit, the drifter Carter (Peter Scanavino). It’s through this unlikely friendship that both men regain a certain trust in civilization.
If the name Atticus sounds familiar it’s because it’s the name of Gregory Peck’s character in the classic film To Kill a Mockingbird. Both the film and the novel are passionate favorites of the director’s. The young actor, Yelich, was cherry picked by the filmmaker after he’d auditioned many kids for the part. Yelich came from the community where The Cold Lands takes place, and he gives a tremendous performance which rivals that of the young actor in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood.
Listen to Filmwax Radio: Tom Gilroy
It was a pleasure to chat with Gilroy, whose earlier background is in theater. In fact, he originally met Taylor through a mutual theater company they founded in New York City a couple of decades back. Both ended up living upstate near the Catskills where The Cold Lands was made. Both, too, seem to share a love of the character-driven film, something that was once so popular in mainstream films and now essentially exists in unique indie films like this one.
To hear my recent conversation with Lili Taylor, use this link: http://rooftopfilms.com/blog/2014/03/filmwaxradio-episode-199.html.