On a cold afternoon, with snow on the ground, the high school band is practicing for the last football game. They hear shots. Flashback a few weeks before. Arthur is a high school student, bussing at a restaurant. Annie and Barb are waitresses there - Annie was Arthur's babysitter when he was little. She's now separated from her husband Glenn, who's on the wagon, starting a new job, praying to Jesus, and trying to prove he has his balance back so he can see more of their small daughter, Tara. Annie's seeing someone else, Arthur's parents have just separated, and Arthur is attracted to Lila, a new student at the high school. It's a small town, people's lives cross.Written by
David Gordon Green, who would end up directing the film, first worked on the script for another director. After 3 years, this other director moved on to other projects and Green was approached by the producers to make the film. See more »
In the scene where Arthur takes a swig from a bottle of beer hidden on the floor, he raises it with the label facing him. In the next cut scene, as he lowers the bottle, the label can be clearly seen facing the camera. See more »
[talking to his marching band through a megaphone]
Wrong, wrong, wrong! This is our last home game, people, and I don't understand what the problem is. Look at the person next to you. Do it! Look at the person behind you. I don't think we need the smiles. Thank you. Now we're all part of a formation. Every pers...
[megaphone squeals so he sets it aside]
Every person matters. Every step is an anticipation of the next. And if you don't think you have a complete concept of what we're ...
[...] See more »
David Gordon Green is the most talented and consistently excellent American director to emerge this decade, making a splash he has yet to equal with "George Washington" in 2000, and gaining further recognition with the acclaimed, painfully true-to-life relationship drama "All the Real Girls". Sadly, his follow-up to "All the Real Girls", the outstanding "Undertow" failed to register with critics, and "Snow Angels", although better received, came and went without causing much buzz. Green's first major studio job, stoner action-comedy "Pineapple Express" was a big hit, and taken along with his unrelentingly grim "Snow Angels" shows the director attempting to move past his small-scale independent films which initially garnered so much acclaim for him.
"Snow Angels" is another drama from David Gordon Green, true, but it is also still different from his other films in the sense that it is his most tragic film and also his most narratively-focused (his previous films were far more lyrical). Here he's also dealing with sorts of characters he only touched on previously, and it's also (if you don't count his collaborative effort on "Undertow") his first screenplay adapted from another person's work. I have not read the novel "Snow Angels", but I doubt there is any detail, no matter how painful, which Gordon Green didn't unflinchingly transfer to the screen.
Although I enjoyed "All the Real Girls" a lot, I found that whenever the film was not focusing on the two leads it lost its edge and became a rather mundane, typical sort of film, with few truly interesting characters aside from the main two. "Snow Angels", perhaps partially due to it being an adaptation, doesn't fail to create interesting (although certainly not sympathetic) characters out of every last major player in this film. The story connects a teenager who is falling in love, his former babysitter, her estranged husband, and their daughter in an involving, focused narrative which is never exactly unpredictable but is always absorbing and deeply, deeply affecting. It's not an enjoyable film, exactly (at least the final hour isn't), but it is hypnotic, it is stunningly, stunningly well-directed and photographed by David Gordon Green and frequent collaborator Tim Orr, respectively (there are certain shots which are too beautiful to put into words), and I was absolutely transfixed for the entirety of this film.
Another film in what Nathan Lee (formerly) of the Village Voice terms the 'familiar turf of the Small-Town Midwinter Tragedy', which Lee insists the film transcends, "Snow Angels" is right up there with "The Sweet Hereafter" and Paul Schrader's "Affliction" (I was even surprised to find that Russell Banks wasn't the author of the novel this was based on), and for my money better than those two films. I quite like the Small-Town Midwinter Tragedy as a sub-genre, so I'm not going to say that this doesn't fall under that label, but I will say that "Snow Angels" achieves a sort of real, honest drama that can only come through true insight into the characters (in an interview with the Onion A.V. Club Gordon Green stated that this was a very personal project, and it shows), and a real understanding of them. In that sense it goes far beyond most tragedies (the vast majority are shallow, miserable, soulless tearjerkers, no matter how far back in history you look), and although it's unpleasantly dark and grim, there is humanity to the film, mostly observed through the young couple in love (these scenes are somewhat reminiscent of "All the Real Girls", only without the complications), which really elevates this beyond your typical downbeat film, as ultimately devastating and depressing as it is.
The film would be nothing without the performances, and as someone who couldn't have cared less for Kate Beckinsale before seeing this, I now think this was easily the best female performance of the year so far. If the Academy didn't require extensive lobbying for a film to get a nomination, Beckinsale would almost certainly be up for Best Actress come early 2009. The rest of the cast are excellent too, in particular Sam Rockwell, who may annoy a lot of viewers with his performance in this film, but it is absolutely necessary for the character to work, and is eerily reminiscent of someone I used to know, and all the more effective for it.
I don't want to see this film again for a long, long time, and in this case that's a good thing.
28 of 49 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this