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Alex Hughes, recently freed from prison, begrudgingly picks up a vivacious 19-year-old hitchhiker, Vivienne, while driving through Ontario. When the car is hit by a truck on the outskirts of her home town, Vivienne dies instantly. Shocked and stranded in snowbound Wawa, Alex is drawn to seek out Vivienne's mother, an autistic woman, to talk to her in person about the fate of her daughter. (IFC First Take)
Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver form the quintessential indie-film odd couple in this intimately observed drama that makes a memorable detour from the usual high-concept, special effects-laden studio fare. Rickman is in his element as Alex, a morose, laconic ex-con just released from prison. A tragic twist of fate brings him to a Canadian small town and the doorstep of Linda, a functional autistic woman with a decidedly anti-social personality. Weaver is a wonder in a fiercely committed, vanity-free performance. "I don't like normal people," Linda states, and neither does Snow Cake, the heart of which is clearly with the outcasts and misfits, including Vivienne (Emily Hampshire), Linda's vivacious, hitchhiking daughter, who bums a ride with Alex because he looks lonely ("Lonely people have the best stories," she observes) and Linda's neighbor, Maggie (Carrie-Ann Moss), a nurturing type who is very quick to take damaged soul Alex into her bed. This is a palpably heartfelt project (screenwriter Angela Pell has an autistic daughter) that--the unfortunate title notwithstanding--mostly manages to avoid the cloying or manipulative. The smiling faces pictured on the DVD cover suggest an upbeat romantic comedy, but Snow Cake is a slice of something much more filling. --Donald Liebenson
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Top Customer Reviews
Fresh off a four year prison stint for a mysterious murder charge, Alex Hughes, played by the fantastic Alan Rickman, is a docile, middle-aged Englishman on the way to Winnipeg, Canada. Not receptive to company after a long plane ride, he is approached in a diner by Vivienne, a young woman with a bubbly personality played by Emily Hampshire. Chatty and extroverted, she invites herself to sit down at his table and tells him all about herself. He is not in the mood to chat, but begrudgingly lets her bum a ride in his truck.
During their trip she eventually gets him to open up, and they establish a lovely rapport. Unfortunately, near the end of their journey they are rammed by a tractor trailer and Vivienne is killed instantly. Rattled and wholly devastated at her loss, Alex is compelled to contact her mother, Linda, played with unprecedented skill by Sigourney Weaver, to explain what happened as well as deliver gifts Vivienne bought.
When he meets Linda, he discovers that she is a high-functioning autistic woman who barely strays from her home and has a myriad of obsessions, among them cleanliness ("Don't go in my kitchen!"), her trampoline and, strangely, snow. Nonetheless upset at her daughter's death, she is inhibited by her disease which tempers her outward devastation. He tries to apologize, but she sees no need for one.
"Did you do it in purpose?" she asks him.
"No, of course not, we just..."
"Then sit down then! I haven't got a problem with you - you must be alright because you gave Vivienne a lift, and you brought me my sparklies!" she says as she plays with them excitedly.
Linda persuades him to stay to assist her with funeral arrangements and put out the garbage on Tuesday ("I don't do garbage!"), as her parents are hiking in the mountains and cannot be reached to come to her assistance. Little does Alex know that he is embarking what are likely to be the defining days of his life.
He becomes involved with Linda's beautiful though equally mysterious neighbor Maggie, played by Carrie-Anne Moss, and is viewed with a watchful eye by the local townspeople, most particularly Clyde, a local police officer with eyes for Maggie played by James Allodi who digs into his troubled past. Getting to know more about Vivienne and her life, Alex learns even more about himself in the process.
"Vivienne wanted to be a writer," Linda tells him. "She said she would always try and get a ride with the most lonely looking characters because they had the best stories." As it turns out, it is her own death that proves the turning point in Alex's own story. A man trying to escape his past, he soon realizes through his experiences that the only way he can move on with his life is to confront his demons head on.
Rickman is positively endearing, with an innate ability to make viewers care for his protagonist, and Weaver's nuanced, challenging performance is simply a marvel of acting dexterity. Although she plays the kind of woman most go out of their way to avoid interacting with, she fully humanizes Linda and brings the viewer into her own little world where emotions are blunt and eating snow is a thrilling occasion. An unlikely angel, she facilitates Alex's need to move on to the next chapter of his life.
"Snow Cake" is certainly offbeat, but it is a deeply affecting film made to linger on the viewer's palette long after its viewing. Cutting right to the heart of human nature and the discordance of life, it is beautiful in its frankness and honesty.
Surprise. Mother is a high-functioning autistic. Rickman's character now has a whole other level of emotional confusion with which to define, cope and include. Sigourney Weaver did an amazing job in this well-researched role. The story, to be clear, is about Rickman's character, not autism. But it is through this vehicle that the character's interactions reveal each other's internal struggles and capabilities to overcome. The film has funny moments, tragic moments, romantic moments and is all-around totally engaging. Lovely Canadian winter scenery sets a background that allows the characters to be prominent throughout the film.
This film was not a box-office smash. I do not know if it even had a broad release at any time. But it is one of Rickman's most beautiful character portrayals, putting on display his vast talent to portray deep emotional communication in his eyes and body language. Weavers performance was of a depth I did not know she possessed, having only seen her previously in more "block-buster" type movie roles in which her characters are far more one-dimensional. I highly, highly recommend curling up with some hot chocolate on a quiet night and getting lost in the beauty of this story.
And - "Snow cake" is revealed at the end :)
I think I could watch any movie that includes Alan Rickman and/or Sigourney Weaver. They elevate any movie they are in. This film is fascinating because you can see how autism affects the daily life of someone and the people around them. I highly recommend it.
Don't look for romantic fireworks or a dramatic ending in this movie. It's just the story of three people with their own secrets brought together by a tragic event. I found myself drawn into their lives, as they were drawn into each other's lives.
Once you see this movie, you will understand why I say it was "dalzious."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
BUT the story is amazing. I LOVED it.Read more
One hour and 52 minutes of fine acting cannot over come what for me ended up in a pointless, even nihilistic film.Read more