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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great performances!
I was sucked in by all of the magnificent performances of this drama/tragedy. This film is slow but none of the scenes are wasted. All of the performances are outstanding but Sam Rockwell clearly surpassed the others as a man who found God after he tried to commit suicide. His gradual mental deterioration throughout the movie was heartbreaking and poignant to watch. I...
Published on September 30, 2008 by Angela S.

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Quite A Surprise...
This film is an interesting, if a bit flawed, trip into the lives of several small-town families and friends.

A co-worker lent me the DVD without explaining any of the story. I had no expectations and subsequently found the movie to be pretty absorbing. The slowly unfolding story and the stark relationships of the characters intrigued me and I wanted to delve...
Published on October 12, 2008 by S. Niduaza


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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great performances!, September 30, 2008
By 
Angela S. (Portland, OR) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Snow Angels (DVD)
I was sucked in by all of the magnificent performances of this drama/tragedy. This film is slow but none of the scenes are wasted. All of the performances are outstanding but Sam Rockwell clearly surpassed the others as a man who found God after he tried to commit suicide. His gradual mental deterioration throughout the movie was heartbreaking and poignant to watch. I felt empathy for all the characters even though they are quite depressing and definitely aren't perfect people. See it for the realistic and contemplative character study and fabulous performances.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars snow angels dvd, July 15, 2009
This review is from: Snow Angels (DVD)
This movie could have been plucked from the current headline news in any small town in America. However, the director and writers decided to take us behind the scenes of what leads up to these all too common tragedies. I was very surprised and impressed with Kate Beckinsale in this movie, I had only seen her in previous roles which did not prepare me for her very strong peformance. Sam Rockwell has done several roles playing unsavory characters ranging from child molester to sex addict. I mistakenly thought he was going to be different in this movie, a normal every day person for a change. Boy was I wrong! This movie does a great job in showing the vivid contrast between a normal relationship and a dysfunctional relationship. This movie was done very gritty and realistic which makes it all the more disturbing at the final end. This movie will depress the hell out of you and make you feel hopeful at the same time. The scenes will linger in your mind for awhile. Not a movie to view before bedtime, it will give you some nightmares. I highly recommend it all the same.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WHY WASN'T THIS IN THEATERS??, September 21, 2008
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This review is from: Snow Angels (DVD)
I REMEMBER SEEING A TRAILER FOR THIS MOVIE, AND WANTED TO SEE IT IN MY LOCAL THEATER BUT IT NEVER CAME, INSTEAD WE HAD SEVERAL SHOWINGS OF INFERIOR MORE COMMERCIAL CRAP, BUT THAT BEING SAID I BOUGHT THIS DVD NOT REALLY KNOWING WHAT TO EXPECT AND WHILE IT TOOK A WHILE TO DRAW ME IN, I WAS CAPTIVATED BY THE CHARACTERS AND THEIR INTERLOCKING PERSONAL LIVES WITH THEIR PERSONAL DEMONS, WHILE I DON'T WANT TO MAKE THIS OUT TO BE A CHICK-FLICK, IT DOES HAVE ONE VERY SWEET TEEN-AGE ROMANCE, IT IS MAINLY A CAPTIVATING DRAMA BETWEEN ANNIE (KATE BECKINSALE) HER EX-HUSBAND GLENN (SAM ROCKWELL)WHO ARE COMPLICATED, FLAWED AND VERY COMPELLING CHARACTERS, OVER-ALL THIS IS A VERY WELL WRITTEN, EXTREMELY WELL ACTED MOVIE, I HIGHLY RECOMMENDED THIS MOVIE FOR ADULTS, I DON'T THINK YOUNGER PEOPLE WHO HAVEN'T MADE PAINFUL MISTAKES IN THEIR PERSONEL LIVES YET WILL APPRECIATE IT AS MUCH AS I DID.
RAZORBACK FAN
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34 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Haunting, Extremely Well-Told Story, April 4, 2008
By 
thornhillatthemovies.com (Venice, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
David Gordon Green is a bit of a critic's darling. He makes good films, but their hyperrealism makes them a little difficult for me to watch. He first came to the attention of many with "George Washington", a very-independent look at some young kids in a very depressed town who come together during one fateful day. With each successive film, Green has earned the accolades of more and more people. He has also captured the attention and the right to work with a larger, more eclectic, more established group of actors. Whether this adds anything to the films is debatable. It could simply be his skill.

I have to admit that with each of his new films, I come to appreciate his skill a little more. It isn't necessarily that his films are getting "More Hollywood", but they are getting more accessible.

And the actors seem to be flocking to him, eager to star in his next film; with "Snow Angels", his latest work, he has brought together his most eclectic and perhaps most talented cast yet.

Set in an unnamed northern town somewhere were snow seems to be on the ground more often than not, the High School marching band is practicing their formations, and the practice is not going well, to the chagrin of their director, when two shots ring out. Arthur (Michael Angarano, many television and film credits, he played Jack's son on "Will and Grace") turns to look and his girlfriend, Lila (Olivia Thirlby, "Juno") watches him as he becomes concerned. Flashing backwards an indeterminate amount of time, the film picks up at the beginning. Annie (Kate Beckinsale, her best performance) and Barb (Amy Sedaris, going for the dramatic here) are two friends who work as waitresses in the town's Chinese Restaurant. Arthur also works there as a dishwasher and he clearly has a crush on Annie, his former babysitter. She has problems of her own; juggling life as a single mom, with her job, and a needy, dependent ex-husband, Glenn (Sam Rockwell) a recent born-again Christian who can't seem to get on his feet. He is one of those people who can never seem to make the right decision or do the right thing. He is so convinced he is making the right decisions; getting a new job, spending time with their daughter, that he doesn't realize everyone around him is so miserable, most of which misery is caused by his actions. Annie's life is exceedingly complicated as well, much of which is caused by her own actions. And Arthur has to deal with his parent's latest break-up; his dad (Griffin Dunne) has walked out and taken an apartment near the college where he teaches. Then he meets Lila (Thirlby) who is attracted to him and they start to go out, giving each other friendship and comfort. Then, one day Annie is home sick and she falls asleep. Her young daughter disappears and the entire town begins to search. Things spiral downward from there.

The magnificent thing about Green's films, and also, in a way, the drawback, is that he seems to have a great ear for dialogue and a keen eye for detail. He uses both of these skills to make his characters come alive and he lets them do what they would naturally do. This is a great skill for any filmmaker to have and Green has it. But it also makes the films seem realistic, too realistic at times, uncomfortably realistic at times. With this realism comes, on occasion, slower pacing. And this realism doesn't always translate into visual filmmaking. These are some of the issues and troubles I have had with his earlier films.

But in "Snow Angels", the combination of a dramatic story, great acting and the small town setting make the film seem real enough to be believable, yet also cinematic enough to be watch able.

Michael Angarano is very good as the troubled teenager with a crush on his former babysitter. It is interesting to watch him portray this aspect of his character and at the same time show how attracted he is to Lila. Arthur is a pretty typical teenager trapped in a small town, trying to work up the energy to escape and lead a life he has always wanted. His hormones are also raging, so he looks shyly at Annie and seems a little confused by Lila. Lila has to make the first move and practically profess her interest in Arthur, before he realizes something is going on.

It is also interesting to watch his relationship with his parents. When we first meet his mom, Louise (Jeanetta Arnette, a popular character actress with many television and film roles to her credit), she appears to be either drunk or have been crying. Her eyes are wide and she looks spaced out. Then you realize, her husband (Griffin Dunne) is leaving and this is the cause of her current state. So, for much of the film, she walks around in a daze, trying to provide a stable home for Arthur. But as we watch Arthur deal with this, Angarano shows us his character has dealt with this problem too many times. We watch as Don begins his new life as a bachelor; he moves into a new apartment, decorated with sparse furniture and spends time exercising on his treadmill, equipment dominating the otherwise sparse room.

The relationship between Arthur and Annie is sweet. It is clear he has a crush on her and what is even better is she recognizes this as well, flirting a little with the younger boy. At one point, he is working at the Chinese Restaurant on a busy Saturday night. Annie chides him "Don't you have anything better to do?" You get the sense there is nowhere else he would rather be.

Then, when he realizes Lila always seems to be hanging around, he starts to talk to her. As their relationship grows, you can almost see the light bulb go off in his head when he realizes she is interested in him. Their relationship is interesting to watch and seems pretty honest and true to how teenagers probably get together in this day and age.

I didn't recognize Olivia Thirlby at first, she plays Juno's best friend, the one who helps her break the news to her parents, in the multi-Oscar nominee. In "Snow Angels", she plays a slightly bookish looking young lady who is seemingly very attracted to Arthur. Lila seems like what every smart, young woman should strive to be when they are in high school. She is smart, curious, funny, and not afraid to go after what she wants.

I have never been a fan of Kate Beckinsale ("Pearl Harbor", "Click"). Don't get me wrong, she is a pretty woman. But her acting skills tend to create a vacuum, sucking out all of the life force in the room and leaving her co-stars to tread water as they swim from the sinking ship. In "Snow Angels", she appears to have finally met the right combination of director and material. Annie is already stuck in this small town and realizes her chances of escape are pretty slim. A single mom, with a dead end job, she cares for her sick mother and has to deal with her ex-husband, Glenn (Sam Rockwell). She clearly loves her daughter, but her life is a mess and she isn't helping things along by having an affair with Nate (Nicky Katt). When her daughter goes missing, she becomes distraught and is amazed by the show of support from the community. As Beckinsale portrays this characters emotion, we see all of the conflicting emotions running through her head. She yelled at her daughter the day before she disappeared, flying off the handle at the smallest annoyance. She needs to see her again to make it all better. She has done some bad things to her friend Barb (Amy Sedaris), yet she is one of the first people to show up and offer help. It is a very good, very moving performance.

Sam Rockwell is also very good as Glenn. From the moment we first meet Glenn, we realize he is one of those people who will always struggle with life. A divorced dad, he now lives with his elderly parents and practically immobile grandfather in his family home. There is a hint that something bad happened recently, beyond the divorce with Annie, and he is starting over. Glenn is a role that could easily have become hammy and over the top and Rockwell manages to make him believable and interesting. He walks a fine line at times, but so much time is spent establishing his character all the actions and problems are believable.

When he shows up to pick up their daughter, it is clear he is trying very hard to present a good image to his ex-wife. He quickly states he has found a new job and will start tomorrow and thinks this is enough reason for her to let him back into the house and into her life. But Annie will clearly need more convincing. There is an off-hand comment about Glenn being a born again Christian and we realize this man is trying to swim back from the depths.

Amy Sedaris and Nicky Katt are also good as Barb and Nate, a couple who are married and working hard to make ends meet. But that doesn't mean they don't each have their own problems.

The story moves at a measured, deliberate pace. We learn a lot about each of the characters and see how they interact and how these interactions help to keep these people prisoner in their lives. Not everyone will make it through this story and this only serves to illustrate how hard it is for some of these people to function in normal, everyday life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FALLEN ANGELS OF WINTER, March 25, 2009
This review is from: Snow Angels (DVD)
If you enjoy drama that does more than tear at the heartstrings--the kind that virtually eviscerates you at the very core of your soul--then you are in for an intensely emotional treat with 2007's Snow Angels.

Based on the eponymous novel by Stewart O'Nan, Snow Angels takes place in an unnamed northern state where, unsurprisingly, there is frozen precipitation aplenty. The protagonist is young Arthur Parkinson, played to clueless perfection by Michael Anganaro (whom I recognized as having played Elliott, Jack McFarland's son, on Will & Grace). Arthur is a high school student, a tuba player in the band, and an employee of his hometown's Chinese restaurant, owned by Oskar, who is decidedly not Chinese (I think he is supposed to be German).

Arthur's parents (Don, played by Griffin Dunne, and Louise, played by Jeanetta Arnette) are separating and his mother is an emotional whirlwind in the face of his professor father's egress. At work, Arthur flirts harmlessly with Annie Marchand (Kate Beckinsale in the most poignant role of her career), a waitress who spent many years babysitting young Arthur. Annie is estranged from her husband, Glenn (a blowout performance by Sam Rockwell), who has recently attempted suicide in the face of his marital woes. They have one child, four-year-old Tara, both adeptly and adorably rendered by Gracie Hudson.

New girl in school Lila Raybern takes an instant liking to Arthur; the role is handled admirably by Olivia Thirlby, who played Juno's best friend in the popular film of the same name. Lila, with her engaging chatter and delightfully retro cats'-eye glasses, waits patiently for Arthur to realize she has a significant crush on him.

A second couple, Nate and Barb Petite, find their lives hopelessly interlocked with those of Glenn and Annie. Barb, played by comedienne Amy Sedaris in an uncharacteristic dramatic role, is a fellow waitress at the Chinese eatery; Nate (played by Nicky Katt) is conducting an adulterous affair with Annie. Meanwhile, Glenn has become a rabidly born-again Christian and is busily attempting to rebuild his life by finding employment while living with his parents and aged grandfather (and let's not forget the dog, Bomber).

Suspicions fly and secrets are revealed in the ugliest possible scenarios, all of which find climax when an unthinkable tragedy befalls one of the cast and, as a result, several of the characters become lost completely.

I will advise that this movie is incredibly dark and extremely depressing, so be forewarned. Beckinsale and Rockwell, however, deliver stellar performances, and while the film may not be all sweetness and light, I would still highly recommend going out and visiting with these Snow Angels.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Quite A Surprise..., October 12, 2008
This review is from: Snow Angels (DVD)
This film is an interesting, if a bit flawed, trip into the lives of several small-town families and friends.

A co-worker lent me the DVD without explaining any of the story. I had no expectations and subsequently found the movie to be pretty absorbing. The slowly unfolding story and the stark relationships of the characters intrigued me and I wanted to delve deeper into why it is so hard for them to understand each other. But the film, however, doesn't focus on the complexity of the relationships and instead shifts to an over-sentimentality which, at that point in the film, overshadows the actual sentiment of the picture.

In retrospect, the movie has a few flaws, one of which includes an extremely ornate second half. If I had to compare this to another movie it would be to the far superior 'American Beauty'.

If your curious about this title, I'd say rent it first before you buy-there's plenty of good film making here but there are also many flaws in the story and characters. 2 and 1/2 stars.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vivid, haunting portrayal, of the depths of human despair., September 23, 2008
This review is from: Snow Angels (DVD)
This is one of the most pathetically sad and depressing dramas that I think I've ever watched. It was like watching a slow train wreck. As the viewer I just wanted to reach out to these emotionally arrested characters, shake them, and yell---stop it, can't you see you're all self-destructing! But, you can't shake inertia, apathy and depression away, can you. Left unchecked, at its worst, it can make one do terrible things. This is a movie that explores the mind's descent into that Hell.

The film takes place in a small Pennsylvania town, where mandatory Prozac in every household might have helped. In some ways the characters reminded me of the series/book Empire Falls. If you loved those characters, you will likely enjoy this movie too, but be prepared---this movie is darker...much darker and lacking the humor of EF.

The film represents a lot of small town angst; dead end jobs, lack of opportunity and everyone knows your business. Annie (Kate Beckinsale) married her high school sweetheart Glenn (Sam Rockwell). After several years together, they've grown apart. Glenn's ne'er do well behaviors, no doubt, added to the distance between them. He was having trouble keeping a job and hitting the bottle seemed his only coping strategy. She viewed him as irresponsible and herself hopelessly tied to a mundane existence, with no way out. She turns to another, who makes her feel wanted, but he's even less worthy of her time. Glen strives to reconcile, but continues to do all the wrong things and Annie sets up even tighter boundaries, fueling Glenn's rage and his depression, now verging on psychosis. The tie between them remains their small daughter. Annie supervises her visits with Glenn closely, feeling he's too irresponsible to oversee her care. But, is Annie the most responsible parent?

The peripheral characters in this movie are dealing with their own issues, while watching Annie and Glenn self destruct. The teenager, Arthur(Michael Angarano), experiences some coming-of-age moments that are played out very well, as are his other family relational issues. It appears that these are the folks that have some growth from observing the towns' favorite couple imploding with depression, in their midst. But, believe me...the Golden Retriever seemed to be the only character in the movie that was consistently stable and he doesn't remain without despair either.

The acting in this movie was absolutely superb---by ALL. Kate Beckinsale was at her best and Sam Rockwell was riveting. I'm glad I watched this film just to see these performances. However, it left me profoundly sad and the little beacons of light that were revealed weren't enough to make up for the pain surrounding the major theme. I was yearning for some of these characters to find redemption. But, such is life---I know.

Do I recommend this movie? Absolutely! But, if you're already feeling a little melancholy, it might not be the best time to dive into it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing ride into the dark recesses of the human soul, September 25, 2008
This review is from: Snow Angels (DVD)
"Snow Angels' is one of the most depressing movies I've ever watched, yet it is also a well-acted, searing human drama that explores the complexities of human relationships and the darkness within some souls.

The story begins in winter in a small town in Pennsylvania, with members of a high school marching band rehearsing on a football field. Suddenly, two shots pierce the air and we are taken via flashback to a few weeks prior where the drama unfolds.

Annie [Kate Beckinsale] is a single mom and waitress who is separated from her loser husband, Glenn [Sam Rockwell] and they have a little girl named Tara who lives with Annie. Glenn is desperate to get back with Annie [going so far as to try suicide when Annie dumps him] and is basically a very unstable person. To complicate matters, Annie is sleeping with her best friend Barb's [Amy Sedaris] husband[ Nicky Katt] a philanderer and jerk.

Then there is teenager Arthur [Michael Angarano] who harbored a childhood infatuation for Annie [his ex-babysitter] and whose own life is beset by family problems - his parents [Jeanetta Arnett & Grifin Dunne] decide to live apart due to dad's adultery.

However, amidst all this convoluted human suffering and relationship woes there is a spot of happiness - Arthur forms a close bond with a new girl in school, Lila [Olivia Thirlby from Juno and The Secret] and their blossoming relationship is a relief against an otherwise gloomy backdrop.

The acting in this movie is above average - Kate Beckinsale flexes some serious acting chops here and her character really goes through some terrible upheavals. Sam Rockwell as the estranged husband Glenn is also worth mentioning as his character comes to personify a truly unhinged person driven to desperation.

The movie is basically a long ride down a dark path of human misery with nothing to cheer about [except perhaps the two teens], but it is a riveting drama that kind of sucks you in to the point you just feel you have to watch it to its inevitable conclusion. Final verdict - worth watching but one may want to follow this up with a more uplifting offering!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interconnected lives hurtling down multiple dead ends..., October 18, 2008
This review is from: Snow Angels (DVD)
This is a well-done movie with an excellent cast. Set in a small town in the winter, the plot involves multiple tortured souls. Do not see it if you are in a down mood or need a refill on your anti-depressants.

I would be hard-pressed to call it "entertainment" but not everything that you see is going to amuse. A good movie!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intense Emotional Drama, January 7, 2009
By 
Alric the Red (in modern times) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Snow Angels (DVD)
The film opens on a winter afternoon, with a high-school band practicing on a marching field. Gunshots shatter the tranquility of the township, and the scene fades to black. Subtitles inform us that we've leapt back to "several weeks earlier," to a period in which all of the adult relationships in this story are already broken. The central relationship and the source of the greatest tension is between Annie Marchand (Kate Beckinsale) and her estranged husband Glenn (Sam Rockwell). Annie is living in a perpetual state of responding to the needs of those around her, barely aware of herself as at an emotional brink. In a misdirected attempt to get a slice of life for herself, she's having an unfulfilling affair with a married man. Her husband Glenn meanwhile refuses to accept the dissolution of his marriage, and skulks in her emotional shadow. He tells his daughter when he has visitations to remind mommy he's changed. In the past he'd been more demanding, so at this stage of the story he has a restraining order against him.

Beckinsale nails it as a woman beleaguered in every direction. Rockwell delivers a compelling performance as a man with no place to turn but his idealized past with Annie. Hoping to amend himself, he takes up religion, but his crude faith is challenged beyond his wisdom by his sense of abject failure. Containing his desperation behind a rigid courtesy, he blandishes Annie with claims that he's a new man, redoubling his efforts to reclaim his happiness, while desperation drags him deeper into frustration and despair, a downward spiral. Confused by her own kindness, she wishes to ease his suffering, but nevertheless understands on a less emotional level that it would be at the expense of her own happiness. Then a terrible tragedy strikes.

This is great drama, with vivid performances by the entire cast. What makes it more compelling is the memory of those gunshots at the very beginning of the film. As the events unfold, the tension is ratcheted by our foreknowledge of a terrible ending. But for whom? You think you know, but as the story develops it's less certain, so you're drawn in closer, making it doubly wrenching to watch decent people unravel. These are lives too burdened with the plain ritual of necessity, enduring too much disappointment, everyone squirming in diminishing hopes. If there's a moral here, perhaps it's that there are no happy endings; only happy beginnings, as in the new love of the teenagers in the marching band. It's a haunting story because the drama is realistic, a bleak landscape in the dead of winter.
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Snow Angels
Snow Angels by David Gordon Green (DVD - 2008)
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