on February 1, 2012
Let me say, just up front, that when I watched this on television I was almost compelled to switch channels.
I simply don't like romantic or sentimental (tear-jerking) movies.
But it was a slow night, nothing else to watch, except the same-o, same-o cop drama here and there,... so I braced myself for a boring and well-planned travel through sentimental-land, with all the buttons pushed at the right time, to force you to squeeze your tear ducts in your eyes.
Mind you, I like everything that has Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver or Carrie-Anne Moss, in it, but I was wondering why these three would congregate to make a "romantic drama".
At first, at the opening of the movie (a bit slow-paced for my taste), nothing new on the western horizon. Nice landscape, a diner and two odd characters meeting (one of them being Alan Rickman). Location? Canada. Season? Well, you may have guessed by the title, that it might be winter. Snow? Yes.
A brief conversation, or better said, monologue of the two characters ensues. So far, so good.
One might think at this point that that's it. Older man meets much younger woman and a pathetic story gets told once again. Wrong!
What happens next, within the ten minute rule of movie-land (if nothing happens within a ten minute span, you can leave the theater or the room and switch off the TV). Well, as I was about to do so, lo and behold, Bang! Big Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang!
A car crash! In a movie like this? Yes. A huge truck rams the man's car and this is the actual beginning of the picture.
The rest unfolds while we accompany the man's ordeal through it all.
I won't reveal what happens next because that's the part you absolutely have to watch for yourselves, and anything further would reveal the entire mystery of the plot. Yes, because the man has a secret, a terrible secret he is trying to keep at any cost.
Suffice it to say that I as dumb as a bell. I missed it when showing in the theaters in 2006 and I could kick myself for this. How could I have missed a tiny gem like this? Then I remembered that I even missed "Truly, Madly, Deeply" many years before and had the same revelation on TV afterward. That teaches you only one thing. One never really learns from his own mistakes, at least not when one is as lazy and as jaded as I am...
Let me just say that if you think to have known Sigourney Weaver as an actress before, well, think again... If you haven't seen her work in this movie, you simply cannot appreciate the great professional talent she has and the true gamut she can span when allowed to do so.
Of course, she already revealed herself as a very skillful comedian in "Galaxy Quest" (also co-starring with Alan Rickman), but here she hits the high note of her entire career, blasting all the crystals in the house.
She portrays and reproduces an autistic woman in every detail. So much so, that at times it becomes disturbing. It must have been the most difficult role she ever played. I am thinking about the research she had to undertake in order to slip in her role. I was astonished and very pleasantly surprised by her.
Carrie-Anne Moss, is the romantic interest of Alan Rickman in this movie and one may believe that this is it... Again wrong! The woman can sparkle with just a few nuances, without ever stealing the show, but just because of this, she becomes an important and integral figure to the plot, without whom the outcome would be difficult to foresee. Her harsh traits, so well known in the "Matrix" movies, can reveal an astonishing feminine beauty, as well as a smile and a laughter that can carry you away to seventh heaven.
Alan Rickman, the face of stone, or is it? I love him in everything he does. His wry, slashing, straight-face humor is simply unique and can be admired in so many movies. In "Snow Cake" he pushes the envelope further, always with very subtle touches, just like a few twitches of the eyes, a dismissing raising of an eyebrow, a touch of disappointment with the corner of the mouth. One has to closely watch the mechanics of his face to understand what a refined actor this man is.
What can I say of Emily Hampshire, except maybe that she will make a terrific career for herself along the years? It is not easy to be the center of a movie without being in it throughout the story. Yet, this is exactly what she manages to do. Her looks, the way she played her role, the entire aura that she manages to broadly paint before our own eyes of who she is and what she does, cannot so simply be forgotten. In fact, her ghost image keeps on coming back in our own minds every time someone mentions her. It's just like saying: "Don't think Elephant!" and keeping seeing the elephant in our minds.
Of course much credit goes to the casting of this movie. All characters must have been painstakingly be chosen and hand picked. But especially the role that Emily Hampshire had to cover, must have had that special attention, because if this role fails, the entire movie's construct falls apart and crashes miserably.
I must also mention the screenplay and the editing of this movie, without which we would not be sitting here, me writing this, and you reading it. The screenplay must have been very special when handed to the actors, since they seem all so very comfortable with it (even though I realize that it must have been quite a study). The editing was made in such a way as never to bore the audience with useless details, but rather build story upon story, upon story, just to form a flowing river of information one can easily digest and admire.
The director Marc Evans, must have had a hell of a time to coordinate the entire action and make sense of it all, but one can tell that he had confidence with the subject and manages to deliver a finished product that is a tiny masterpiece.
I titled my review "The science of forgiveness... and understanding." and indeed that's the juice of this movie. It is much less a love story, than a human story, a story of human destinies clashing, bumping, crashing, landing, walking and ultimately explaining themselves through the art, or if you will, science of forgiveness and understanding. A lesson and a story we can all identify ourselves with.
OK. Now that I have spent my time spending my Summa Cum Laude to these gifted actors and actresses, as well to all the off-screen personnel, I can only tell you one thing, if you think you know a movie by the title, or because you have read about it, well, think again. One must watch them before being able to judge them. Some may even reveal themselves as gems of movie making.
"Snow Cake" can certainly be considered one of them.
Now to the DVD. I own both the UK pressed and the US version of this and I must say that both are worth owning. Despite the slight differences in color resolution and the obvious running length that varies due to the different PAL and NTSC frame speeds, nothing else can be said that would prevent you to buy this movie. The sound on both is crystal clear, and for once, may I add, you are not overwhelmed by intruding and pervasive music from wall to wall.
There is music, but it is kept at a reasonable volume and not constant throughout the picture. For my understanding, this is a sure buy.