If you are
prone to depression, then Snow Angels may not be good for your mental
It is a
truly pitch black film even though most of the running time the streets
of the tiny town it surveys are covered with a thick blanket of white snow.
Life in the world the film portrays goes steadily from bad to worse to
tragic with an inexorable logic and inevitability.
tragedy makes for great drama (just ask William Shakespeare) and Snow
Angels mostly earns its tears.
Angels centers around a young small-town band geek named Arthur (Michael
Angarano), but it is not really his story. He plays a significant part
in it, mind you, but it is more about Arthur learning from the problems and
pain of people around him.
people are closest to home Arthur's middle-aged college professor father
(Griffin Dunne) decides to sow his wild oats and moves out of their
beautiful upper-middle-class home, leaving the mother so that he can shack
up in a small apartment with a female colleague.
Arthur falls in
love with Lila, a nerdy girl at the school though Olivia Thirlby, who also
played Juno's cheerleader best friend isn't exactly a nerdess.
Thirlby does a wonderful job in the role, but you can't help but notice that
she is obviously gorgeous, even when dressed down in shapeless sweaters and cat's-eye
works at a local Chinese restaurant. Also working there is Annie (Kate Beckinsale), a beautiful but damaged thirty-something mother who has
recently split from her husband Glen (Sam Rockwell). Glen's life has been a
series of drinking and mental problems in recent years.
You can tell
by the way he looks at her that Arthur still has a serious crush on Annie,
who had been his childhood babysitter
in fact he seems to hold off Lila for a while in vain hope that something
could come of his relationship with Annie. Annie is also willing to
flirt with the young man, because she likes the attention, and frankly that
is the only way that Annie knows how get a reaction with men. In fact,
Annie has fallen into a sordid affair with the husband (Nicky Katt) of her
best friend (Amy Sedaris).
trying to win his way back into the life of Annie and their daughter.
He assures them that he has found God, found a job and been sober for six
months. Annie is understandably skeptical. The problem is,
almost the entire time we see him, Glen is obviously horribly damaged. We
never see any of what drew the couple together in the first place to the
extent where at one point when Annie suddenly waxes nostalgic about how
there had once been love in the relationship, it is almost hard to believe.
Except for one short scene in which he sincerely seems to be trying to be
there for his ex, you want to shake Annie and tell her to run not walk
as far away from her crazy ex-husband as she can. Not that Annie is so
pure either. She can be mean, vindictive, needy, selfish and has a
blazing hot temper.
these fragile lives are pushed to the limit when a random and terrible act
of violence intrudes on the little circle drawing even the satellite
characters into the vortex of swirling doubt and emotion.
Some of the
people are destroyed by the act. Others are able to find the strength
to fix their own messed-up lives after realizing how short life really is.
Others just carry on in their same dead end path.
audience can see no good coming down the pike, and yet that does not
completely prepare you for the relentlessly and horrifically bleak ending.
Snow Angels is a very well-made and worthy film, but it can be really
hard to watch.
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Posted: February 26, 2008.