First Snow (2006) Poster


User Reviews

Add a Review
44 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
Empty Fate
Vantec25 November 2007
Judging from other reviews and comments, missing Guy Pearce's performance in 'Memento' helps appreciate 'First Snow'. Here he impressively fleshes out the script's thin characterization of Jimmy Stark, a traveling salesman and life-long huckster who becomes convinced his impending death was foretold by a roadside psychic. The chance encounter sets into motion events he torments himself and those around him to control, thrashing from one catastrophe to another uncertain of their significance. Ultimately everything matters, major and minor, past and present cleverly interlocking for a final resolution. It's a solid and memorable portrayal of a man simultaneously forced to face both his past and his fate.

As good as it is though it's trumped by J.K. Simmons' terrific and too-short portrayal of Vacaro, the middle-aged nomad living out a solitary existence with an old pickup and camper to show for his unique 'gift'. Here the film wonderfully avoids the usual dead Hollywood clichés (humourously contrasted and lampooned at one point) for a resigned true psychic who wants little more than to go fishing. Without histrionics or gesture Simmons is utterly convincing and engrossing throughout.

If only the same can be said of the sum. With two such strong performances focused on the universal question of fate vs. self-determination it's hard to put a finger on why the film never gels. The plot offers up enough clever and well though-out twists, events unfold naturally without reliance on astronomical coincidences to guide them, supporting characters are serviceable and the cinematography fine, yet the viewer is held at a disinterested distance. Part of the blame rests on the rushed and unsatisfying ending, some of it on where the film does rely on clichés to carry sub-plots - the usual romantic candle-lit tub scene for example to develop Jimmy's relationship with his live-in girlfriend. Only when Pearce and Simmons are on screen together did I care about the characters and those scenes were short.

Pearce and Simmons tack points on an otherwise promising but mid-pack film. 7/10.
24 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Getting the most out of a simple plot.
rmack2730 April 2007
As soon as i read the cast for this movie i knew i would enjoy it. Pearce Perabo and Fitchner all give fine performances. At first glance you may think the plot line is cliché and overly simplistic, and you may be right, but it is the way the story is told, the setting, and the great performance from Guy Pearce that will really suck you in and have you thinking about this movie for long after it is over. This is the kind of movie that is good for multiple viewings. Even though i've only seen it once, im sure you would pick up more bits and pieces form watching it a second time around. I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys physchological thrillers that make you think. This is not for action junkies that can't enjoy a movie unless it layed out in front of them.
34 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Amazingly Original Screenplay
Hint5237 April 2007
First Snow is a movie of which the plot can be outlined in a minute. A man (Pearce) is stuck in a little town on the side of the highway where the only attraction is the psychic (Simmons). He spits out some normal predictions, then freaks out and says he doesn't see a future for Pearce's character. Pearce laughs it off, but after all the other predictions come true, he goes back to the same guy. He says this time: "You will be safe until the first snow"

Of course, the clichéd plot line would be that he goes paranoid beyond belief, which for part of it is like this, but the film sets up multiple possibilities of his death that keep you intrigued. The film could have many alternate endings because of all the other ways he could die that are set up in the movie.

But the ending is perfect. The last shot of the film is the best I've ever seen except for Glory and maybe The Shawshank Redepmtion. I also feel J.K. Simmons and William Fichtner both gave performances worthy of a Best Supporting Actor Nomination, more Fichtner than Simmons, but since it is April it's doubtful they'll stand a chance in Oscar season. The screenplay is top notch and Oscar-Worthy as well.

But the movie fall short of a 10/10 because it no suspense is built. For this kind of film, suspense is necessary. But everything else is really good in this movie. But you should still see this movie, especially if you're into fate or destiny related movies
42 out of 55 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
First Snow interesting, but somewhat disappointing
michael725200312 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I found First Snow to be a disappointing film. I saw a few trailers for the movie and perhaps I was anticipating something far greater than the end result. I'm not saying the movies plot wasn't interesting. It did holdmy attention; It had great scenes and the whole concept of a person knowing he was going to die at a certain time is a suspenseful way to deliver a story. I think maybe it could have been told differently. It started off with a guy (a real hustler) stranded in a New Mexico service station waiting for his car to be fixed. He accidentally (or was it fate) stumbled upon a fortune teller who told him bad things were going to happen to him. The main character (Guy Pearce) laughed it off, but then a few of his other predictions that seemed way out there came true. This caused a lot of upset and for the next few weeks of the story, Guy Pearce slowly unraveled. It finally came to light (after another visit to the fortune teller) that he would meet his tragic end upon the "First Snow". Hence, the name. The remainder of the movie became a pathetic attempt for him to find out why he was going to die, including becoming suspicious of a life long friend that he betrayed, who had just recently gotten out of prison.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Purple mountains…First Snow
jaredmobarak2 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
People constantly talk about how young actors like Ryan Gosling and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have the knack for choosing some great films to be a part of and really showing off the immense range and talent they contain. However, few people talk about the stalwart adults who have been doing their job for years yet without credit. Unless you're a huge star doing some good stuff along with mindless drivel in order to keep your name in the minds of your viewers, you are thrown to the side or mislabeled as a character actor. Only the young guys get hyped for the quality of work they do because they aren't quite established yet. Well, let me be the one to say that the most underrated leading man working today is Guy Pearce. The man may not work as often as most, but he seems to choose only the best to take the time for—I can safely say this because I have not and probably will not see The Time Machine. From LA Confidential, to Memento, to The Count of Monte Cristo, to The Proposition, Pearce is a force to reckon with. With Mark Fergus' debut First Snow, you couldn't wish for a better performance from him or a different actor to have played this role.

Our introduction is a short monologue by Pearce, from the road, with blood dripping down his face. From here we go back in time to the start of everything that is to happen, a fateful day where driving into a ditch lands him in the middle of nowhere with some time to kill. Our protagonist is a salesman with a gift for talking fast and planting the seed of interest in those he tries to sell. Jimmy has an idea that will get him on his own and secure his future for himself and possibly his girlfriend, whom he still has yet to commit to. Pearce is pitch- perfect with the cockiness needed to believe this character and even dislike him a bit, knowing that there must definitely be more to him than is shown on the surface. Our catalyst to find out what has happened in his past is a fortuneteller by the roadside, willing to give a reading for ten bucks. The reading goes bad though and ends abruptly with the knowledge that Jimmy doesn't have very long to live, in fact, he has until the first snow before his end.

Sometimes fate hits you when you least expect it. Had Pearce not seen the psychic, (played wonderfully by JK Simmons in a role that I have not seen him tackle before), he may not have been led on the path laid before him. The very knowledge of his demise is the jumpstart to why his life must end. Between the paranoia and jumping to conclusions from the fear of what he learned, he sets into motion a reunion of sorts with the demons he has learned to live with throughout his life. Will he be able to reconcile his soul before the end or will he drive himself to the edge, never wavering and never being able to forgive himself? First Snow is definitely a journey worthy of its time and setup.

While a simple story of redemption and the fragility of life, this movie hits all its marks dead- on. Jimmy's evolution as a man is believable and where he ends up is because he took his life into his own hands, to let it carry out on his own terms. He is told that no matter what road he chooses, the end will always be the same. It is up to him to take the time to say goodbye or to keep running from the inevitable. Through all his inner turmoil, we are also given a glimpse into the lives of those around him. This is a strong cast of people that help hold together the shattering performance from Pearce. Piper Perabo is fantastic as the bubbly girlfriend with the compassion and the love to stick with her man and accept that he has secrets, but allow him the space to deal with them on his own. Besides Simmons, we also have a couple acquaintances played by two favorites of mine, William Fichtner and Rick Gonzalez. Fichtner does what he does best and shows how effective he can be in a small role, redeeming himself for the paycheck he received on Blades of Glory. Although his role is small, and may seem a bit of a throwaway at first, by the end you learn that his was a very integral part in the decision Pearce finally makes.

At the end of the day, First Snow is an intelligently told, taut thriller. It is wholly character based and story driven, led by its emotional performances rather than confrontational action. Many of the most suspenseful moments take place just watching Pearce talk on the phone, not knowing what will happen next. Even the ending is practically perfect and very un- Hollywood. It is very subtle, and I almost thought Fergus wouldn't do it, but he does. He ends it how it needed to be ended and without the fanfare and in your face theatrics that lesser films would have used.
21 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Taut noir thriller
Lawrence21 April 2007
This taut little thriller, directed by first-timer Mark Fergus, is a real gripper with intelligence to spare and some seriously powerful stuff. The protagonist/anti-hero, Jimmy Starks (Guy Pearce in a role that hauntingly echoes his work in "Memento"), is a salesman/con man who easily slides in and out of legit selling and shady conning. Pearce carries this off beautifully, and is ably abetted in his downward spiraling tale by J.K. Simmons as Vaccaro, the strangely prescient soothsayer, William Fichtner as Jimmy's friend Ed, and some really great unknown actors in other supporting roles, principally the actor playing Jimmy's boss, who will hopefully go on to do more work on film (he's terrific).

Jimmy accidentally meets up with fortune teller Vaccaro who accurately predicts a win by a local college basketball team that Jimmy's bet on, as well as a windfall from an on-the-level business deal that Jimmy's involved in. What Vaccaro does not predict is the riveting, ever-darker series of events that ensue when Jimmy finds out that a former partner of his in a crooked scam, Vince, is now out on parole from a stretch in the slammer.

For my money, this is the best American noir thriller of the year so far, and would make a great addition, once it's out on DVD, to anyone's library of neo-noirs. The ending in particular is really strong--always the mark of a well-made film.

Try not to miss this. It's great.
25 out of 36 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Looks nice, but goes nowhere
jfgibson7321 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
From the look of the reviews here on IMDb, this movie obviously has its fans. I really didn't care for it at all, and I have been trying to think why some people find it so well done, and some find it completely boring. It is definitely well filmed. It looks good and establishes a consistent tone. So fans of indie drama will recognize some of what they like about those kinds of films. The flip side is that because the movie takes the time to show the little details and develop a mood, there will be those who find it too slow. I think the subject matter is also one of things that divides people about this movie. In the story, the main character meets a quirky mystic who predicts he will die soon. So you get some themes of fate and destiny, along with a little mysticism. Personally, I didn't find any of that interesting. I also thought that there wasn't much story to it: once he finds out he may die soon, it becomes a character study. Except nothing really memorable or interesting happens. I like Guy Pearce a lot, and I thought he did a good job with who the character was at the beginning. I would actually like to see Guy get to play another character like this, because I think he could really let loose with a slimy, self centered, Daniel Cleaver type of role. But it just felt like it didn't go anywhere. SPOILER: at the end of the movie, Guy's character avoids the death that we think is coming, and drives off. We are then told he died in a car accident off screen. So some viewers are sure to see that as a cheat. I liked Piper Perabo, but she didn't really get more than a couple minutes screen time. I really disliked the guy who played the fortune teller. I thought he was the worst thing about this movie. For me, he was just really goofy, and it makes it even more annoying that so many reviewers praise his hokey act as Oscar worthy. So, to sum up, it was nice to look at, but I only give it a four.
11 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Trailer Park Kreskin
David Ferguson7 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Greetings again from the darkness. Being a fan of "Children of Men", I was very anxious for writer/director Mark Fergus' directorial debut ... especially when I found out it starred Guy Pearce and was a psychological thriller. While an interesting idea, the execution prevents this one from really becoming the gem it should be.

Pearce is very solid as the salesman-cum-con man whose perspective on life changes drastically after a chance reading by a road side psychic, subtley played by J.K. Simmons. With his confidence shot and his emotions unraveling, Pearce does a nice job of capturing the fear and uncertainty of a man facing the abyss.

Piper Perabo and William Fichtner are OK in their support roles, but neither character is especially well written. Also, in what should have been the climax of the film, Pearce's character comes face to face with his past (in the form of life long friend, Vincent). This scene just doesn't pack the necessary punch that the film was building towards.

Still despite these weaknesses, the film is better than many and is at least somewhat thought-provoking. We can't help but hope for even better future projects for Mark Fergus.
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Gripping and heartfelt
akikmitsui3 May 2006
The movie portrays a gripping tale of what could be a cliché theme, "Man learns he has a short time to live," in an entertaining and captivating manner. Lead actor is great -- you almost hate him, but yet sympathize with his plight. Lead actress is beautiful. An impressive independent film that was fun to watch. Set in desert with great cinematography. Effective score with lots of great music, love to buy the soundtrack, too. The movie made me think about all the strokes of good luck and bad luck I have live through, and that family members have lived through. It all seems so random, but is it? The film seems first to be portraying a story about someone else, until the viewer realizes it is a lot about the viewer, too. How long will we live, how will we live, what did we do to lead to this conclusion, and what can we do about it?
37 out of 61 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Extraordianary performances and tension
cpking72 December 2007
The entire movie feels like the Third Act of a Sergio Leone western: tension building and Morricone-like score and visual poetry. Thematically, a brilliant examination of anxiety and its role in self-fulfilling prophecy. Dialogue is taut and dead on. All the actors shine. The director didn't allow a single false note to reach the screen. Pearce and Simmons are incredible, as are the score and cinematography. Sometimes, studios are reluctant to push a film this uncompromising in presenting so grim and poignant a vision, but any attempt to soften this or edit it for the taste of hyperactive teenage boys would have killed a perfect mood. This is really one of the best, most chilling, emotional movies I've seen in years. If you like Coen Brothers, definitely check this out.
12 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
This road you're on... you put yourself on this road... on this exact night. Who chose this? A man makes his destiny, right?
lastliberal28 August 2008
Is it destiny or did you make it happen? Are you going to die regardless of what you do to avoid it, or do you make decisions that result in your death? This neo noir with Guy Pearce (Momento, The Proposition, L.A. Confidential) was well written and exciting from start to finish.

Pearce made a perfect sleazy salesman and Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly) has shown she can do a good dramatic role. I thought she was really good.

The story keeps you guessing until the very end. Did things happen because they were destined to happen, or did he choose to be in that place in that time.
11 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Full of suspense and holds your attention throughout.
mandmt-23 May 2006
This movie brings home the lack of control we have over the direction our lives are taken. The setting shows how quietly beautiful the southwestern desert is and used here it contributes to the film's holding the viewers full attention. I liked how the suspense built as Jimmy realized he needed to confront and change his situation. Deirdre had just the right level of support for Jimmy but maintained her pride and integrity, putting their relationship at risk. Ed and Jimmy come across exactly as I would expect people in their kind of business to be with Ed supplying support Jimmy needed. The cast made their roles totally believable. I really enjoyed this movie.
27 out of 48 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Beautiful and slightly frightening.
kidboi7 April 2007
From the moment I heard that Guy Pearce is in this movie, I knew I simply must see it. Every movie in which Guy Pearce is the lead turns out to be amazing and I think he is one of the main reasons for that. Pearce is a guy who gives a soul to every character he plays and this film is no exception. It is very pleasing to see him get more and more lead roles these days.

"First Snow" is basically intended as self realization film. But "First Snow" manages to stay out of the clichés of these kinds of films and brings in new themes. It is about someone who knows when he is going to die, but instead of using the good old "live every day like it's you're last" thing, "First Snow" shows the dark side of knowing you're fate. It sends the main character into a grim and frightening journey full of questions about the fragility of life. You'd probably think that this film would force it's thought on you, but instead it gives you a chilling example and leaves you wondering, and questioning themes such as fate, the future and life.

To generate the feel of the main thought, "First Snow" creates a frightening and somewhat cold atmosphere using the surroundings and the music. The cinematography and editing are also amazing, creating an amazing visual sense of the movie. This is easily going to be on my list of 2007's best movies.
19 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Hand Of Fate
valis194917 March 2009
FIRST SNOW involves a trade off. The action is slow, but there is a fairly compelling narrative. The story involves a brash young salesman who engages the services of a truck stop fortune teller, and finds that his life is nearly over. He's safe only until the first snow. Jimmy, played by Guy Pearce, must plan a course of action to determine the veracity of the prediction, and then act on his finding. FIRST SNOW creates a visual mood, and takes its' own sweet time to unfold. The film is a psychological thriller with the feel of a noirish foreign film. The two writers on this project collaborated on the far superior film, CHILDREN OF MEN, but FIRST SNOW makes a clever attempt to resolve the following conundrum. Our fate lies on whatever road we decide to take, yet nothing makes the gods laugh harder than when Man attempts to control his destiny. Guy Pearce's MEMENTO is a much better examination of the effect of predetermined events, but FIRST SNOW is certainly worth a look.
10 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
I actually agree with some other reviewers here... An unusually moody and gripping Thriller, but unfortunately with a somewhat weaker ending than it should have had...
lathe-of-heaven15 July 2014
Basically, without going into a lot of detail covered by many here already, you get a pretty good idea just from the review summaries for this film that many found it really well done, moody, and a great concept, BUT... unfortunately I felt that it was ultimately watered down by the ending chosen by the film makers (or possibly yet ANOTHER stupid studio interference...)

So, without entering any Spoiler territory, if you can excuse or overlook the completely OBVIOUS and somewhat ham-handed ending, and just sit back and enjoy the rest of the film, it actually is quite good and intriguing, and you probably will like it for the most part. And, Guy Pearce's acting is superb...

But... I REALLY would have given my left nut (the smaller of the two) if they had just left the ending far more ambiguous and moody, just like the rest of this excellent film. I basically gave it about 2 stars less than I would have normally for a film of this overall quality; specifically because of the poor way in which I feel that they handled the ending...

(I undress further, oh, excuse me... I mean, ADDRESS this further in a much more detailed SPOILER laden thread here in the discussion section for this film below...)
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Modern Hitchcock
centralparknyc12 May 2006
Excellent film all around - the suspense is real. The characters are brought to live vividly and it's truly a pleasure to watch and see what happens. Guy Pearce brings the "live by the seat of your pants" character to life. It leads you through a journey and you're not quite sure where you're going. The photography is remarkable and it brings that part of the country to live. It deals with many theme and brings them all together in the end. The score helps to bring it all together and is hauntingly beautiful. The film is easy to relate to and gets to thinking about fate, destiny, control, and the power of fortune tellers.
22 out of 46 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Wild Ride - Tour de Force - Guy Pearse
morganola5 May 2006
A Tour de Force for Guy Pearse and its premier at the Tribeca Film Festival. A stylistic, crisp drama filmed perfectly in the wide-open and dreamy landscapes of New Mexico. First time director Mark Fergus takes us on a wild ride with a first-rate supporting cast of William Fichtner, Shea Whigam, J.K. Simmons, and Ricky Gonzalez. Bravo to the performance of Guy Pearse who keeps us in suspense as Jimmy throughout as we try to get inside his head. Piper Perabo (Deidre) lights up the screen giving us reason to hope. Warm friendships, betrayals, and dealing with your past demons are all part of the mix with high energy and superb casting.
14 out of 34 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Sporadically interesting
jdesando10 April 2007
"Fate rules the affairs of mankind with no recognizable order." Seneca

Guy Pearce confirmed his cult status with his tortured Leonard of Memento. Writing notes to himself because of his serious short term memory loss, he pursues a putative killer of his wife. Now in First Snow Pearce as Jimmy Starks pursues another threat, his imminent death disclosed by a fortune teller. The theme of fate versus determinism-- Can anyone alter his destiny?-- is provocatively introduced but only partially developed beyond plot demands for someone avoiding death.

The expectations for a thematically heavy duty, time challenged thriller like Christopher Nolan's Memento are not always in Mike Fergus's First Snow, a semi-entertaining thriller slow in many parts and hardly challenging other than seeing Pearce put his indie-strange stamp on a mediocre knockoff of his most famous role. Here he displays his usual taut physical and mental persona but without any puzzling character depths other than selling old Wurlitzer juke boxes and flooring while touting shoulder-length hair and attitude incommensurate with the nowhere character he inhabits.

The New Mexico setting is just right for the new-age ambiance of the occult and existentialism. This region has had its cult status confirmed with the many UFO sightings and the starkly haunting work of Georgia O'Keefe. Chris Martinez's minimalist score punctuates the spare emotional landscape.

Jimmy's palm reader, Vacaro (a wonderfully weary J.K. Simmons), says, "I saw no more roads, no more tomorrows. But you're safe until the first snow." The script doesn't allow Jimmy to go too far beyond disbelief at this prophecy into whether or not one can be happy knowing the future. Try he will to alter that future but without intellectual resolution for the audience.

More promising is the redemption motif in which he must face a recently- released-from-prison former business partner, who went up the river because of Jimmy's testimony and who may now wish to exact his due. How Jimmy faces this prophetic return is not well enough dissected, but it remains an energetic coda to an otherwise sporadically interesting study of personal responsibility and fate.
8 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Extraordinarily average.
Manfrombelmonty15 January 2008
What can I say...not much to this one at all. Pretty dull and uninteresting.

The actors performances are just OK. The only one that shines in any way is Simmons, but he only has, maybe 3 scenes. I understand that by keeping his screen time to a minimum he retains the mysterious psychic aura he has, but I can't help but feel his talent was wasted. No one else rose above mediocre.

The story itself seems like it may be intriguing at the beginning, but then just doesn't go anywhere. There wasn't a single scene in the movie that impressed me or made me feel like I had just seen something special. The cinematography was fairly bland...I mean desert in a washed out sort of sepia...not very inspiring.

The story of his childhood pal back outta prison seemed only partially thought out and didn't really add anything to the story, other than making an average 'Twilight Zone' script into a full length feature.

6 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Paranoia and phone calls .........
merklekranz6 December 2008
"First Snow" has an intriguing beginning. A traveling salesman has his fortune told by an old man, who's predictions turn out to be amazingly correct. From this point on the movie plays out like a bloated "Twilight Zone" episode. I mean nothing but car trips, phone calls and paranoia. William Fichtner gives his usual interesting performance, but Guy Pierce is anything but a sympathetic character, disregarding other people's well being for the sake of his own paranoia. The ending is especially weak, with absolutely no payoff for the long suffering audience. Do yourself a big favor and avoid this one. Not recommended. - MERK
4 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Intriguing slice of neo-noir; Pearce is captivatingly good
george.schmidt16 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
FIRST SNOW (2007) ***1/2 Guy Pearce, Piper Perabo, William Fichtner, JK Simmons, Shea Whigham, Rick Gonzalez, Jackie Burroughs, Adam Scott. Intriguing slice of neo-noir about a smooth salesman (Pearce continuing a successful career as a character actor trapped in a leading man's body) whose fate is determined one day on a fluke palm reading by an off-the- beaten-path seer (a sublime Simmons), and becomes paranoid/obsessed at learning he has until the first snow fall to live. A shrewdly paced and smartly written screenplay by newbies Hawk Ostby and Mark Fergus (the latter directing too boot) allows the right amount of suspense and taut tension to keep the viewer engaged until the bitter end.
4 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Rubbish ending......was it destined to be?
cmoyton15 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
So frustrating to watch this intriguing movie peter out with such a whimper. Original it may not have been however First Snow is an interesting take on the well worn themes of fate and paranoia. I was not put off by the shifty salesman character (Jimmy Starks)portrayed by Guy Pearce ( with his best Travolta Pulp Fiction style hairdo).At first he appears cocky and confident but he has shady past written all over.Time to play catch up.

The style and tone of the movie to me was more David Lynch than the Coen brothers - the snowy mountainous backdrop did have a touch of Fargo however. Starks life changes after receiving a reading which reveals that he is on borrowed time. As events spiral out of control Jimmys paranoia forces his hand into continually making incorrect assumptions and wrong decisions When he eventually comes to terms with his destiny he tries to make amends by tying up loose ends It is worth noting that much of this involves money whether it be his life insurance policy, the juke box machine contract to the former colleague he sacked or the hard cash to compensate the former friend who he sent to prison.

And the ending - aaaagh. His on parole former friend appeared so unobtrusively menacing on the phone but in reality.... The unbearably overlong showdown between Stark and the on parole jail bird was a bit of an anticlimax complete with hackneyed dialogue, followed by a rushed conclusion with "what might have been" footage and a radio news broadcast denouement. Very disappointing.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The open road
jotix10011 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Jimmy Starks, a flooring salesman, stops at a desolate roadside garage because of car trouble. Since his car will not be fixed for a while, he decides to get a reading with Vacaro, the fortune teller that works out of his van in the parking area. During the session, the seer, an older man, experiences a shock, which Jimmy interprets as a bad omen. He presses Vacaro to tell him more. The reply is that he will be fine until the first snow. When Jimmy presses for more, Vacaro gives back the money, having nothing else to tell him.

Shaken by the experience, Jimmy goes home to try to make sense about the predictions. This man gives the impression he can be ruthless when it comes to work. We witness as he fires a young man, Enrique, a decision he will later regret. Visiting his doctor he is told of a faulty heart valve, that, while not life threatening, it is something not to be taken lightly. A few things keep getting in his way so he decides to go back to Vacaro.

Jimmy is obviously under a strain that is exacerbated by the knowledge that his childhood friend Vincent went to jail for three years. Vincent's going to prison because Jimmy gave him away so he could save himself. Everything comes to a head when he finds out Jimmy is on parole. The guilt he has been carrying in his heart and the feeling of doom based on Vacaro's predictions, are enough for him to think his end is probably near.

The film marks the debut of Mark Fergus as director. Mr. Fergus co-wrote the screenplay with Hawk Ostby. The film is a strange combination of a thriller with dramatic overtones. The idea that Jimmy's life will end soon, and the reality of the prediction of the fortune teller makes an engrossing drama. The atmosphere has been perfectly achieved in the Eric Allan Edwards' cinematography.

"First Snow" owes a great deal to Guy Pearson, a charismatic actor that exudes intelligence and doubt in equal measurements. Mr. Pearce has an angular face with a structure the camera loves. Some of his choices have not paid well, but one can only hope he gets involved in projects such as this because he shines as the troubled man at the center of the story. J. K. Simmons, an excellent character actor is on hand to give one of his satisfying performances. On the other hand, Piper Perabo and William Fichtner don not have much to do in the movie. Or Shea Whitman who plays Vincent, a pivotal figure in the story is only seen briefly in a role not well developed in our humble opinion.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Deserves better recognition
Leofwine_draca2 March 2015
FIRST SNOW is a relatively low budget vehicle for star Guy Pearce, attempting to plough the same sort of furrow as his superlative MEMENTO. The simplistic storyline sees the star given news of his impending death by a trailer-park psychic, at which point his life begins to unravel as he attempts to do all he can to avert impending disaster.

The story in this one is straightforward enough, but it's more of a mood piece than anything. The small town photography is excellent and there's a cast of eccentrics and seasoned professionals who help to bring the story to life; Shea Wigham, William Fichtner, and J.K. Simmons are the stand-outs here. Pearce is excellent, as he always has been, and the director builds a genuine sense of foreboding as the narrative heads for its inevitable conclusion. My only real fault is that the twist ending is way, way too obvious.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Sunlight, shadow, and sleaze
Chris Knipp9 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
First Snow is the directorial debut of Mark Fergus, who co-wrote it with his writing partner of twelve years, Hawk Ostby (they met at Boston Univeristy, and were first inspired by Neil LaBute's 'In the Company of Men'); they also wrote 'Children of Men' (for which they got an Oscar nomination) and Jon Favreau's Marvel comic book adaptation, 'Iron Man', coming out next year, with Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jeff Bridges; and an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' 'John Carter of Mars', a Paramount project. 'First Snow' got a shot in the arm when producer Bob Yari came on board.

But you don't know who Fergus is and you sort of want it that way with a movie like this. You wander into it recognizing only the raw bony face of Guy Pearce. Pearce, as Jimmy, comes on dressed in cheap suits driving a sleazy car as a salesman in New Mexico with a pretty young girlfriend, Dierdre (Piper Perabo), and there's another salesman, Ed (William Fichtner) who's his friend. The plot has ramifications the sketchy dialog gives hints of. Jimmy wants to sell classic Wurlitzer jukeboxes equipped with their original 45's but his card shows he still sells flooring.

This movie is like a cheap salesman itself and that's its charm. It's professional but not slick, raw like Pearce's skinny face. Its contents are the stuff of B-movies -- grudges, double-crosses, threatening phone calls and, the centerpiece, a grizzled trailer park fortune teller (the excellent J.K. Simmons) who sees something unexpected in Jimmy's future too terrible to relate. A gritty past comes back to haunt him as he drives around on the highway fleeing winter. "You're safe until the first snow," the seer mumbles, before he gives Jimmy his money back and clams up. "But whatever road you take, the same fate follows you." Ouch.

There was a scam in Mexico, something about money laundering and a partner named Vince (Shea Wigham) who did time and now is out and mad.

'First Snow' is largely made of close-ups, harsh bright desert light and heavy shadow. It's a nice grungy riff on noir photography with hand-held camera and seedy locations instead of studio shots and fancy lighting. And instead of intrusive Angelo Badalamenti or Bernard Hermann-style background sounds it's nicely highlighted by Cliff Martinez, who did the underscored music for 'Traffic' and 'Narc'.

Albuquerque, NM is the setting. Fergus was living there and the snow there had dazzled him. He must have also felt the nexus of urban poor and desert as ideal for a story about a two-bit shyster running from a terrible fate.

Guy Pearce has long lanky hair as he did in John Hilcoat's 'The Proposition', and it makes him look sleazy even as his fine cheekbones and chiseled torso make him sexy. He grins a lot, till he starts sweating, and looking desperate, and hiding in motel rooms from a nemesis he seems to have imagined. A coworker he fired named Andy (Rick Gonzalez) scares him. He's on the run after he visits Vince's grizzled, dying mother (Jackie Burroughs) and thinks Vince is crazy and tailing him. When he's holed up in a dark motel room things get pretty tense.

Then at some point Jimmy washes up and shaves and stops running; some of the tension disperses and this is where writing and editing fail to come together. Jimmy goes out in the snow. It was just superstition. Wasn't it? He relaxes and smiles again and goes home. He tells Ed over their usual drink that he's in the center of the tornado where it's calm, but the energy goes out of the picture for a while, till Jimmy, with questionable motivation after being on the run, goes to meet Vince (who's left him a zillion phone messages: the movie is plagued by cell phones and land lines). And the tension, anyway, is back.

First snow has a double ending whose second half almost seems a quick afterthought and the whole story falls apart like a house of cards. What was it all about, anyway? Why, it was about the light and the shadows and the romance and sleaze and scariness of cheap suits and cheap cars and the threadbare plots of little movies like this that can still take you off somewhere and keep you watching and hanging on every word in spite of yourself.
6 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews