Author Topic: Snow Cake ****  (Read 1255 times)


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Snow Cake ****
« on: January 11, 2009, 10:49:22 PM »
Snow Cake
4 out of 5

Directed by Marc Evans and written by Angela Pell, this is the story of Alex (Alan Rickman) who picks up a hitch-hiker, Vivienne. Unfortunately they are soon involved in an horrific accident and Vivienne is killed. Despite it being clear he is not at fault, Alex is wracked by guilt and seeks out the girls mother, Linda (Sigourney Weaver). However the meeting doesn't go as smoothly as Alex hoped because Linda is autistic. He ends up staying for a few days, organising the funeral and starting a relationship with Linda's neighbour, Maggie (Carrie Ann-Moss).

This is a simple, gently comic film (the overview above is pretty much it!), given substance by it's great cast and affecting story. It could very easily have been a typical TV-movie, but its central theme of autism is handled very well and acts as an anchor to stop things going too sentimental. In fact, that's rather the point. After the accident, Alex can't help but feel responsible and is quickly heading for pious self-pity, but Linda's stark acceptance of the situation is like a slap in the face to both him and the viewer.

Sigourney gives a superb performance as Linda, although it takes a little getting used to. Really roles like these work better when played by someone you don't recognise so well, especially when she is normally synonymous with tough focused women in films like Aliens, Working Girl or her previous, very different collaboration with Alan Rickman, Galaxy Quest. Like Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry, I'm sure repeat viewings will be rewarding. Actually this film has the advantage because Linda isn't the central character.

That job is for Alan Rickman as Alex. Typically, he is very good indeed, especially as the films weakest point is possibly the rather whimsical nature of Alex. Where he has been and where he is going is very important to the story, but trying to build suspense into the reasons for his dark past seemed at odds with the rest of the film. Also his relationship with Carrie Ann-Moss' Maggie almost feels forced, though she is excellent and there are some funny and touching moments. The best moments though are those between Alex and Linda. The Scrabble game is hilarious and that's the way I'll play it from now on! There's also a wonderful moment involving a trampoline, as a bewildered Alex is forced to enjoy himself with the child-like joy of Linda sweeping all other concerns to one-side.

I believe the best depiction of grief is still the fifth season Buffy episode called The Body and part of that was down to the brilliant use of Anya, a demon-turned-human. Despite being a mere fantasy character, her inability to comprehend what happened was a perfect depiction of the absurd feelings we have to deal with. Linda is a similar character (especially when she has to ID Vivienne) because she accepts it too readily and continues her routine. While her high-functioning autism seems cold, it challenges Alex and forces him to look at himself very closely. An easy pitfall for the film would be making it too one-sided, in that Alex is affected by Linda, but not vice-versa. While it's quite clear that Linda's autism will not allow her routine or perception to be altered by Alex, there are a couple of nice touches where he does make a difference.

Aesthetically, the film is probably closest to the snow-bound vistas of Fargo or Insomnia, but it shares neither of those films flair for visuals. There are a couple of key scenes that stand-out, notably the accident, the funeral and an abstract, but joyfully uplifting moment when Linda tries to block-out the mass of unwanted visitors to her home. Otherwise the environment is a bit too bleak, but the films story and characters are absolutely wonderful and make this an uplifting, if melancholy, experience. It's simply "Dazlious" (38 points!)... :laugh:"Dazlious" (38 points!)