Snow Angels (2007) Poster

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8/10
atmospheric indie drama
Buddy-5124 March 2012
"Snow Angels" starts off as a fairly conventional, angst-ridden indie drama about life in an American small town, but the movie turns into a profoundly moving work after an unexpected tragedy strikes the community.

Director David Gordon Green's screenplay (co-written by Stewart O'Nan) focuses on two disintegrating marriages - one belonging to Annie and Glen Marchand, and the other to Louise and Arthur Parkinson - and the effect the breakups are having on the children and extended families. The people in both groups already seem profoundly unhappy with their lives, but when an unspeakable disaster occurs, things go from bad to worse for all concerned.

"Snow Angels" features insightful writing, sensitive direction and a profound sense of place and season (it takes place in the deep, dark days of a Midwestern winter, though the film itself was filmed in Nova Scotia). It's not an easy movie to watch at times - its emotions wrenching and its characters' weaknesses all too human and recognizable – but excellent performances by Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, Michael Angarano, Jeanetta Arnette, Deborah Allen and Griffin Dunne, among others, make it worthwhile viewing.
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10/10
Kate Beckinsale's best movie and a great chunk of life.
KateB81913 June 2007
'Snow Angels' is a movie based on a book by Stewart O'Nan. It is directed by David Gordon Green, and stars Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale, and Michael Angarano. Rockwell and Beckinsale portray a recently divorced couple with a daughter, who were high school sweethearts. Angarano plays a teenager, who used to be baby-sat by Annie (Beckinsale). The movie follows the lives of several people, including Annie and Glenn (Rockwell), Arthur (Angrano) and his parents, and others as some relationships are built and others are destroyed.

The movie has a strong real-life feeling to it, thanks to great writing by Green and great acting skills by the cast. There are scenes where Annie yells at her child that may seem to be out of place at first glance, but are actually amazing true-to-life ways to express how sometimes parents can lose their tempers with their children. The scenes show how sometimes kids can try to push their parents' buttons, or play their parents against each other without even knowing it.

The acting is absolutely wonderful – the actors show a wide range, from joy to sorrow, and from humor to violent anger. There are times when you love and sympathize with the characters, and there are times when you hate them so much your blood boils – that's how strongly the audience connects to the characters. By the end of the movie, you feel drained, as if you just watched someone you love die.

There were times when the whole audience laughed together, and there were times when the whole audience grew silent in discomfort. The way that this movie consists of laugh-out-loud moments and moments when you just want to tear your heart out and break out a box of tissues is what makes it an outstanding movie. This movie doesn't even have to try to get its audience to love it. The script is chock-full of wit, life at its best and worst, and humor for every generation. The movie left me walking out of the BAM theater smiling and wishing I could watch it again, not wondering why I'd wasted over 10 bucks on a ticket.

The only problem I found with the movie was that its setting was a bit confusing. There were scenes where the characters used cell phones, and others where there were those record players for LPs. But other than that, the movie was flawless.

Beckinsale is at her best here, not only in looks, but in acting range. She took me on another world as I sympathized with her, felt angry at her, felt happy with her, and watched her as her character's story unfolded before my very eyes. This is one of her best movies, and to me it IS her best movie.

10/10, for sure.
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A well-made movie that always seems "real" but it sure is a depressing one.
TxMike13 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The location looks like it could be any Midwest town with a medium sized high school. It is winter, there is snow on the ground, the band is practicing outside for the halftime show of the next football game. We hear what sounds like a gunshot, we don't know from where. The students hear it too. Is it a school shooting?

Then the movie flashes back a couple of weeks and is told in a linear manner, up and then past that point where we hear a shot. The first thing we figure out is there don't seem to be any "faithful" couples. At least we don't see them. The ones we see are fooling around with spouses of friends.

I suppose the best summary is a "slice of life" in a small community, and for the high school kids it is part of their coming of age.

Kate Beckinsale is Annie Marchand, she works in a restaurant and is separated from her husband. They have a small daughter. It seems he has had some emotional issues, received treatment, but still behaves like the kind of guy most people don't want to be around. He is a social misfit, often saying or doing exactly what shouldn't be said or done in the situation. Meanwhile Annie is secretly carrying on with a married man, while her husband seeks to reunite the family.

Sam Rockwell is the husband, Glenn Marchand, and he plays the part very well.

Separate from all this another family is having domestic problems.

Michael Angarano (of 'Sky High' fame) is teenager Arthur Parkinson. He plays trombone, not very well, in the high school band. Seems his mom and dad aren't getting along very well, dad leaves home for a while. Meanwhile Arthur gets to be friends with a new girl at school, Olivia Thirlby as Lila Raybern, and they become young lovers. Interesting dynamic, when his mother one morning realizes he and his girl had spent a night together, she doesn't scold him at all, in fact expresses some amount of envy that he is getting some and she isn't.

Anyway, as well-made and as well-acted as this movie is, when it was over I didn't feel good. I had just witnessed train wrecks where no one comes out of it in good shape. Had I known what all was going to transpire I would not have taken the time to see it. Not my kind of "entertainment", but I grant that some viewers will like it a lot.

MAJOR SPOILERS: As Annie and Glenn are jockeying for position in the strained relationship, Annie wakes up from an unplanned afternoon nap and finds the small daughter missing. The town has everyone, even early dismissed school kids, begin looking for her in a 4-mile radius. Arthur, who as a kid had Annie as a babysitter, found the girl, dead at the edge of a frozen pond. This of course further strained relationships and Glenn went to Annie's house with a shotgun and shells, he waited for her, shot and killed her. Later, as he was driving away in his truck and realizing his life was essentially over, stopped and shot himself through the mouth and brain with piston. As the movie ends we see everyone else in the town just going on with their lives.
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10/10
Heartbreaking, tragic and sensational.
dead475485 July 2008
In the hands of a less capable director, this devastating tale of loneliness, murder, adultery and budding teenage love could have easily turned into a melodramatic soap opera filled with completely unlikeable characters. However David Gordon Green once again expresses his genius by displaying human characters with real emotions. The film begins and ends with a montage of standard everyday activity in your standard American town, showing that these people aren't in extraordinary circumstances or any different from you or I. They are human, and they are very flawed.

Another genius decision by Green is who he decided to put in the middle of the film. In a story filled with such tragedy, it is surprisingly centered around Arthur (Michael Angarano), a young band member, and his budding romance with quirky new girl Lila (Olivia Thirlby). Their adorable friendship-turned-relationship is so sweet and pleasant that when they are on screen alone you completely forget about the chaos that is surrounding this town. At the beginning of the film we hear two gunshots as the band is preparing their big number for the football game at the end of the week. So from the start we know that this story is destined to end in tragedy. But in these moments with just Arthur and Lila being awkward and cute with one another, expressing their mutual attraction or making love for the first time, Green makes us believe that everything is right in this small town; if only for a moment.

Possibly the biggest story of the film is the destructive relationship of Arthur's co-worker (and former babysitter), Annie (Kate Beckinsale) and her unstable ex-husband Glenn (Sam Rockwell). Annie goes through the entire film taking one hit after another. She has so much on her plate, between raising a child alone, taking care of her mother and her affair with Nate (Nicky Katt) who is coincidentally her best friend's (Amy Sedaris) husband. Slowly everything in her world unravels until a point where she is nothing but an empty vessel of what may have been a happy woman at some point in her life, back when Glenn used to make her life. Glenn himself is an absolute wreck in every aspect of his life. On the surface he appears to be a despicable, hypocritical character who preaches about how Christianity saves him but then falls right back into drinking and neglecting his daughter. However in the writing and in Rockwell's flawless performance he becomes one of the most sympathetic characters I've seen in many years. It's a film filled with real people who keep falling into horrific circumstances.

At the center of the entire film is Green's sensational writing and directing. But his brilliant work would be nothing without the astounding performances from the entire cast. Sam Rockwell is an actor who I admire passionately, but he still managed to surprise me with his portrayal of Glenn. Rarely have I had such an emotional connection with a character to the point where I cry when he does and when he does something that I know is wrong, my stomach clenches in fear of what the consequences will be. His performance is a tour de force and one of the best I've seen this decade. Kate Beckinsale is also surprisingly fantastic. The role is very unflattering and at first glance her angelic beauty seems to be miscast, but she proves that external beauty can be nothing but a cover for someone who is slowly breaking to pieces inside. She is absolutely devastating, and explosive, throughout the film. However the most surprising of the cast is the young Michael Angarano who nails the role of Arthur with a reserved, internal anguish that is barely let out on the surface but is always clearly dwelling underneath. It's a trait that I could relate so well with and I was amazed at how well he captured this performance. Olivia Thirlby, one of my favorite young actresses, is also phenomenal as the unique, adorable young photographer who gets Angarano to fall for her; it's easy to see why.

As almost everyone says, Snow Angels is an incredibly difficult film to watch, but one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. Everyone who contributes in the film is at the very top of their game and it combines for something unlike anything I've ever seen. Green is clearly one of the most passionate directors working today; he refuses to add a flare or flashy style to his films but in doing so makes his intimate relationship with his characters instantly recognizable. He is a man who cares so deeply about the people he is putting on the screen that he refuses to let anyone label them or imply anything about them. This film is many things; a tragedy, a tale of young love, a display of flawed human beings falling apart in a small town. Ultimately though, to me, it's a story of loneliness. Green shows early on that no matter what you have in your life, everyone is instinctively lonely. By the end he proves that without love or friendship, life can fall apart to results that you would never dream possible.
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10/10
Powerful, simple. unforgettable.
bobsgrock15 May 2010
For some, the best type of films are those that are character-based: there is no action sequences, no huge stunts or explosions. Rather, there is a story that unfolds and is filled with quiet moments as well as more rambunctious ones that never go over the top into farce. Here, writer/director David Gordon Green handles strong and intense material, yet creates a moving and unforgettable piece of film-making that I will not soon forget.

In the same vein as American Beauty, Ordinary People and Little Children, this film explores the simple, everyday lives of people just trying to exist as best they can. People work at jobs they don't like, struggle to relate to their children, each other and themselves, and in this case deal with some unbelievable situations. In whatever case, Green keeps just the right amount of difference at the right time and then shoves it in our face exactly when we need it.

To assist him is the cast, which is uniformly excellent in its performances. Kate Beckinsale needs to concentrate on serious films after this really sharp and heartbreaking role as Annie, a single woman struggling to cope with her daughter who she doesn't truly understand and her estranged husband who she regrets not being able to fix her relationship with. The husband, Glenn, is played by Sam Rockwell in I think the film's best performance. Glenn is a struggling alcoholic who also is devoutly religious and the way he attempts to correlate the two elements is both cringing and stunning. The most effective relationship in the film is that between two high school students played by Michael Anagarano and Olivia Thirlby. How sweet and wonderful it is to see two people that truly seem to love, or at least trust, each other in order to have support for their problems. Here, Green seems to be teaching by showing that even young people can and do understand the seriousness and complexity of real relationships.

As I said before, this is a very sad film with most of the sadness directed at Annie and Glenn. What is even more sad is that they try to overcome their shortcomings by digging deeper holes. This is a film that evokes great empathy and you want to reach out to these people, knowing they are going to do something regrettable. One thing not regrettable is watching this film, which is simply-told, very powerful and forever unforgettable.
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7/10
Very Good If Depressing
samkan30 September 2008
The underlying novel and this film stole my planned novel! I live in Northeast Pennsylvania (the film is set in Southwest PA). I'm one of those who threaten, promise, etc., to write a book someday but probably never will. But my main idea was to write about one of the ancient defunct communities that dot the old coal and oil regions of the state.

SNOW ANGELS does a great job at depicting lives in such communities. Especially during that part of the year when the landscape is barren and suicides spike. The profound sense of hopelessness is evident in many of the characters. Those without resources fall into profound despair. Those better off look into themselves. The result is always tragic or counter-productive. Only youth sees promise, has hope, etc.

The film was far from perfect: Rockwell and Beckinsale's story line so dominates that the lives of the other characters become almost a distraction. I doubt that's what the author intended. The climax pays off in intensity but is predictable. But the acting and script are exceptional as is the pacing and mood. For those who think the film lacks plot, the simple depiction of setting and life are story enough.
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10/10
Hard to watch but worth paying the price
larry-41121 January 2007
"Snow Angels" is a glimpse in time of several relationships, some simmering and ready to boil, others cooling down, and at least one whose flame has yet to be lit. It's also a thriller, with a gunshot that is heard as the film opens. The narrative is linear but writer/director David Gordon Green, adapting the novel by Stewart O'Nan, takes the couples' stories and interweaves them in such a way that we never quite know all the secrets at the heart of the mystery. The film flashes back as we try to see how we got from there to here. In many ways the overriding theme deals with the promise of what once was versus the reality of what could have been. The "reality" is embodied in the relationships which are falling apart, as evident in the older couples. The "promise" is represented by the young couple whose lives are just beginning.

At the heart of the film is the crumbling relationship between Sam Rockwell as Glenn and Kate Beckinsale as Annie. We watch Glenn almost literally disintegrating before our eyes as he tries to get a grip on who he is and why his marriage is failing. Glenn is one of the most frightening characters I've seen outside of horror films. Kate Beckinsale's Annie is breathtaking, in every sense of the word. We bear witness to a life in free fall as everything and everyone she loves seems just out of reach. You know those dreams where you can't quite get to where you want? You try to touch it but it stays at arm's length? That's Annie's world. We so painfully watch as the madness around her takes its toll, and she weathers the way rain erodes rich topsoil, leaving little but rocky dirt underneath. Amy Sedaris is Annie's best friend Barb. She has her own marital fires to put out, and the relationship between Annie and Barb progresses in a way nobody can imagine. She is a joy to watch. In the midst of the darkness there are some lighter moments as well, and Michael Angarano (Arthur Parkinson), Olivia Thirlby (Lila Raybern), and Connor Paolo (Warren) have the lion's share of them. They are essentially the light in the darkness that surrounds the rest of the film. It should be no surprise to fans of Angarano that writer/director David Gordon Green would have chosen him to play Arthur Parkinson. He's not yet comfortable in his own skin, a trait which could describe most adolescents. He's a bit shy, nervous, and even nerdy, yet he is charming enough that everyone else seems drawn to him even though he doesn't seem to be aware of it. As Arthur's muse, Olivia Thirlby's Lila is the female representation of those awkward teenage years and an almost equal counterpart to Michael's Arthur. Their tender tiptoeing around each other is one of the most touching depictions of first love I've seen in cinema. Connor, as Arthur's best friend Warren, provides some much needed comic relief. He is a smart-ass whose ego often backfires. He's funny and not quite as smart as he thinks he is. Among other standout performances is Griffin Dunne (Don) as Arthur's flighty dad. Or should we say father, not really the "Dad" that Arthur wants or needs him to be, but the boy clings to him in this critical time of life when he is most in need of a male role model. But he won't find one here. It's this failure to connect which climaxes in an exchange between them that gave me chills. It was a jaw-dropping moment.

So much of the film is frightening that, as Green said in the Q&A afterward, he had to find actors who could infuse some humor into their characters, otherwise it would be too heavy. All around me were glistening eyes and tissues wiping away tears. At its heart it is a sad story and the audience was hushed at the end. Many have wondered how much of the film is David Gordon Green's adaptation as opposed to the Stewart O'Nan novel on which it is based. Green did discuss this at length in the Q&A. After reading the book, he knew he had to make it into a film. But he also immediately knew that it would have to be heavily adapted. The more he wrote the more he realized just how much would really have to come from his own hand. The impression I got was that what we see on screen is much more David's work than maybe even he had initially anticipated.

Jeff McIlwain and David Wingo's score is haunting, as is the film. It is used sparsely, only to punctuate the dramatic moments, as the subject matter is weighty enough that it didn't need much augmentation. It's used efficiently and effectively. The film is visually stunning. No surprise here, as it was shot by Green's longtime collaborator Tim Orr. His work is unmistakable -- gutters dripping, swings on a swing set, clouds, contrails, aluminum siding -- you can always tell his work. He sees language in shapes and movement of inanimate objects. He then connects them to the action in the story, often with a wink and a nod. Blink and you might miss it. The beautiful winter landscape of Nova Scotia gives him a palette from which he can choose many colors. The juxtaposition of Orr's beautiful photography with the horrors David Gordon Green exposes us to in "Snow Angels" is nothing short of genius.

This is a true work of art, to which many filmmakers aspire. Few hit the mark. I'm not sure if that's what David Gordon Green was trying to do here, but he did it nonetheless. There is little doubt in my mind that this is a film which will make you think about the innocence of youth and how fleeting it is, and make you wonder if it has to be that way.
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9/10
An Absolute Gem!
pegasus35 April 2008
SNOW ANGELS is a absolute gem! It is an example of a small scale indie that is as near perfect as I could have imagined. All throughout the movie, I was reminded of a line from the poet W. B. Yeats…………"things fall apart, the center will not hold." The film is a complete recreation of this concept in visual terms. With the exception of the two young high school lovers, everyone's worlds in SNOW ANGELS is slowly but surely disintegrating, and ultimately it gets very dark. But all along the way it is so beautiful. The acting is superb, the photography is compelling, and the editing technique, I found, was expert, continually dramatizing the story by powerful visual cuts. I don't know why some reviewers have complained about Kate Beckinsale's beauty as being out of place in the film's setting, a criticism that makes no sense whatsoever to me. She is wonderful in the film and seemed so right for the part. The fact that she has a very natural beauty only enhanced her role both realistically and symbolically. Sam Rockwell's performance I found extraordinary. His past roles have always reflected a broad range and the character he plays in this film may well be one of his very best. This is a movie that carefully and honestly dissects dysfunctional lives in a small, insulated world. What was so amazing to me was the film's ability to create a combination of a storyline being so very sad and bleak while at the same time that storyline's expression being so beautifully and artistically realized. Also, I don't know when I have seen such a honest exploration of young teenage love as the portraits Green draws of the young boy and girl, Arthur and Lila. The two young actors are marvelous as well and their relationship gives the film the necessary lift above and beyond the despairing tragedy of the story.
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Superb
ametaphysicalshark23 September 2008
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.

9/10
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10/10
"Some will fly, some will fall" .. haunting picture of complex human nature and tragedy
NateWatchesCoolMovies24 March 2016
"Some will fly, some will fall.."

Snow Angels is an agonizing film to put yourself through, as it determinedly focuses on two people who are losing track of their path in life. Their emotional and psychological clarity is dimming, blinded by possible mental illness and lingering tragedy, mentally snowed in, so to speak, like the ironically idyllic Midwestern town they call home. Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell are Annie and Glenn, a couple wading through a bitter separation that is taking a damaging toll on their little daughter (Gracie Hudson). Glenn embarrassingly clings to Annie and what they had, leaning on the crutch of alcohol and making a pitiable fool of himself. Annie is lost and fragile, unsure of appropriate action at this particular crossroads in life. Their story is laced with that of other residents in the town, and you'll be pleased to know it's not all doom and gloom: a budding romance plays out with the talents of Michael Angarano and the wonderful Olivia Thirlby. There's also work from Griffin Dunne, Nicky Katt and the excellent Tom Noonan in an extended cameo that bookends the film's enigmatic emotional climate. Rockwell seeths with regret and heartache, lashing out passively at first until his behaviour becomes very destructive to himself and those around them. Beckinsale has never been better, downplaying Annie by bottling up her feelings, and letting them corrosive erupt in a third act of unimaginable tragedy that demands courage and compassion from the viewer. A highly complex, grounding story of lives gone off track and the not always so simple way in which we humans conduct ourselves with each other. A must see.
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9/10
Tragic, Haunting Masterpiece!
g-bodyl10 December 2013
Snow Angels is perhaps one of the most difficult films I have ever watched. This is almost a masterpiece that portrays realistic human emotions. Essentially this is a film that explores the ups and downs of human life and how people deal with them. This dialog-based film has some powerful but key moments that show the audience this. These scenes are genuinely emotional and may induce a tear or two. Difficult as it may be to watch, this film is a plus of cinema.

David Gordon Green's film explores several characters and their relationships with each other. We see a shy high school kid, his old babysitter, and her estranged husband and how their lives interconnect with each other.

The acting is nearly flawless. Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell deliver some of their finest and perhaps career-defining performances yet. Beckinsale proves that she does not have to be a vampire in the Underworld films to find out she can take these kind of dramatic roles just fine. She does have the emotional depth for these parts. We all know Sam Rockwell is a great actor and this is one of his craziest, but strongest roles.

Overall, this is the small-budget masterpiece you'd come to expect. David Gordon Green has a way with giving his characters an emotional core. You come to sympathize for them no matter their flaws. This is just outstanding art that explores characterization to the deepest. With a strong script and engaging story, this is a film every film geek should watch. I rate this film 9/10.
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10/10
A great heartbreaking drama with a long taste after
Walter_c18 February 2012
A sad and a hard movie. And the full extent of its heaviness you will realize not during the watching, but after that. A heart heaviness doesn't leave fast enough. This film is mainly about human or family relationships, about giving another a chance to be forgiven, the ability to ask for forgiveness. About a bunch of things that come up from the relations between people. And those items we call 'life'. Sam Rockwell (my applause) and Kate Beckinsale did amazing performances (maybe the best roles too) and at their best, revealing a many-sided personality of the characters. Playing a his character Rockwell shows us his great acting talent and being a master of many-sided personality.
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A Beautifully Crafted Tale of Adolescence At Any Age
danielletbd11 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Writer/Director hybrid David Gordon Green returns to his pattern of beautifully entwining the lives of small town characters in his new drama, Snow Angels, which depicts the act of floating through life at its simplest and purest: all of these characters, despite their numerical ages, walk the dangerous tightrope between child and adulthood, leaning from one side to the other with every step.

Based on Stewart O'Nan's novel by the same name, Snow Angels is set in a confining New England town, where it seems that young love can only be found when an older love completely fizzles out. Glenn and Annie (Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale, respectively) are that latter couple; as separated parents, they struggle with the maturity required to share custody of their young daughter while simultaneously resorting to the childish behavior of relying on their parents for help. While Glenn seems to be the one who has given up on any light life may have to offer, it is Annie who comes across as the most immature character at first glance. She is the young mother who is still putting her own juvenile needs first. She works a dead-end restaurant job (something usually reserved for teenagers) and engages in an affair with a co-worker's husband (Nicky Katt). Perhaps that is why she reconnects so easily with her former babysitting charge, Arthur (Michael Angarano). What redeems, though, Annie is the well-meaning but overwhelmed way in which Beckinsale portrays her: she paints on a bright smile to try to seem like everything is okay and together, but her eyes are tired behind it, allowing the audience a glimpse of just how beaten-down she really feels. Even in the moments when she snaps at her daughter, she comes across a lot softer than would be expected in such a situation.

Arthur is very much an old soul trapped in a teenage boy's body; though he is just a high school student, he is swiftly being introduced to all of love's grandeurs and pitfalls when he simultaneously falls for new student Lila (Olivia Thirlby) while facing the implosion of his own parents' marriage and monetary security. Angarano's big wide eyes are not those of wonder or awe in Snow Angels; they, too, seem prematurely exhausted with the weight of everything going on around him. It is no surprise then that he clings to the one person who used to take care of him when he was a child: Annie. It is their friendship that is the deepest bond in the film because it is a pure, agenda-less, emotional connection.

Green expertly weaves tales of the daily grind, from the mundane acts of Arthur's marching band practice, to Glenn's defeat when he momentarily lets his faith slip and reaches for the liquor bottle yet again, to the short-lived triumphs, like a stolen moment laughing between two friends. It is when Glenn and Annie's daughter goes missing that these men-children realize all of the pain in which they have been wallowing is petty, adolescent dwelling, and they have never before truly known horror but just tedium.

Snow Angels is never sappy nor melodramatic, as Green chooses subtlety and quiet desperation over loud explosions from his characters. Glenn is the one character that rides that line, sometimes sobbing to himself and something banging his head against a truck. Rockwell is an incomparable talent in the current film business, but he pulls out all of the punches here, going above and beyond to make his character the scared, confused little boy trapped in a grown man's body that is so common for those to whom life has just seemed to happen. It is only when Glenn is considered a suspect in his daughter's disappearance that he awakens from the stupor that has become his life. In the moments that follow, both he and Annie grow up in a profound way, being forced to reevaluate their situation and try to pick up the pieces of their lives.

Some may go into Snow Angels expecting a suspense thriller and therefore find the methodic pacing a bit slow. Upon walking out of the theater, though, it is impossible not to notice that you don't feel drained because you spent the last hour and forty-five minutes bored but rather because you went on an emotional journey that made you smile warmly one minute and tear up the next. Green and Snow Angels makes you feel, and that is the greatest gift a film today can give). More than a year after the film first debuted at Sundance to critical acclaim, Snow Angels is finally getting a wide release, and it couldn't have come at a better time. After the barrage of uninspired, formulaic rom-coms and CGI monster flicks of late, we could all benefit from some real, raw feeling.
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3/10
beyond boring and depressing.
robengle25 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The only enjoyable thing about seeing this movie is to watch Michael Angarano's performance. Clearly he is a talented actor with a bright future. Other than that we, in the theater, jointly agreed... "what was the point and why do these movies get made". As the viewer we are tossed into this dismal, depressing world of rural PA. and left there to wonder... why don't these people seek some therapy & get some help... maybe try to move up the food chain. Why, I wondered, were these people stalled in this life, how did they get there, why aren't they leaving? And then all I could wonder was why should I care? No one in this movie shows any compassion why should the audience? The direction is limited, the story convoluted, and the Art Direction clearly without budget (They couldn't even afford to change the light switches). Not to mention the snow... non melting fake snow... gross. I hope Sam Rockwell spends some time choosing his next project as well as Griffin Dunne (what is he doing here). These guys are great actors stuck in a boring story. A story/life most people are trying to escape, and by escape I don't mean murder suicide. lastly I wish when people are determined to kill themselves in a murder suicide that they take care of the suicide part first. See something else. R
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9/10
There are good people…Snow Angels
jaredmobarak19 April 2008
This film is quite fantastic; a character study of a small town and the everyday craziness that can happen in it. From the trailer, one will understand that this will be a very deep story, culminating into some dark event that will serve as a catalyst for either growth or degeneration for those involved. Green, however, never takes the easy road to show us a conventional lead-up to said occurrence. Instead he commences our journey into the town with a lengthy portion of the comedic mundanity of life. We begin to understand these characters and their relationships with one another; we are thrust into their lives while they have all reached a crossroads of faith and find themselves on the cusp of either taking a step forward or a giant leap back. The familiarity greatly increases the emotional impact of the climatic tragedy that serves to push them all to their breaking point. It's a slow boil to utter devastation and it is handled to perfection.

A lot is going on character-wise and it all is intertwined together. Unlike most pieces of this nature lately, Snow Angels allows each role to exist individually while also having a cursory connection to the rest. They don't walk into each other's lives in contrived ways for the sake of the script. These are real people, in close proximity, that inquire about and interact with others in their hometown much like you do in real life. A high school trombone player named Arthur is our central entry point into the tale as he touches the most people along the journey. He works at a restaurant with Annie, who was also his babysitter and an early crush many years previously (leading to a nice scene of the two reminiscing in the backroom now that they are both older), as well as her friend Barb. Glenn becomes involved through his marriage with Annie and their daughter Tara while the new girl in school Lila begins a relationship with Arthur to enter herself into the tale. Everyone's parents ask about the others in more of a polite manner than anything else. They all know each other and try to stay on top of things despite any real caring. I think at least three people ask how Annie's mother is doing, not because they want to know, but because it is what neighbors do. You have a stake in the lives of those around you because you are all involved in a community. It may be a tenuous bond, but it is a bond nonetheless; one that may connect you moreso than you might have thought.

Green really allows his audience to find their own bond with the people on screen. We begin to feel for Glenn as he tries to pick the pieces of his life back up off the ground. A man chased by the demons of alcohol, he has all but lost his wife and keeps only a thin hold on his daughter after attempting to kill himself, before finding God. He is a man that means well, but might not have the capacity to endure what is happening around him as his wife is seeing someone else and still holds a small fear of him and his actions. You hope that Glenn can stay on the right path, but as you watch him continue on through everything you begin to wonder if he can. Credit Sam Rockwell with this because he is absolutely amazing. Always relegated to be the funny guy, Rockwell shows the range he had starring in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind with a devastating role. One can't praise him enough.

We connect to the others as well through their strong performances. Michael Angarano is great as Arthur, growing into an adult and experiencing things that he may not be ready for. Finding his first girlfriend in Lila, (a nice turn from Olivia Thirlby), he must also confront the past; a selfish father leaving and returning what he sees fit into his wife and son's lives, (Griffin Dunne in a well portrayed bit); and the death that has gotten strong in the air. Kate Beckinsale, as Annie, shows that she can act when not wearing tight leather in vampire films, going through the biggest changes of everyone with her mother to care for, the return of her husband, an affair with Nicky Katt's Nate, and the responsibilities of being a mother.

True the actors are the real shining grace here, but Green deserves praise for their work and that of the aesthetic look on display. The final act tends to drag in parts as it leads to the inevitable conclusion, but that is the only blemish from the whole. His compositions are stunning with many scenes standing out. When Dunne and Angarano are walking and talking at the father's campus, Green chooses to continue panning left even as they have stopped, not lingering on their final words but instead the void left empty in front of them as they are stalled figuratively and metaphorically in their relationship with one another. Along with instances like that, we are treated to multiple close-ups of people and objects throughout, whether it be the marching band conductor's speech or the camera that Lila takes around with her. Green has deft control on the proceedings, infusing the right amount of light humor to diffuse the darkness deep within the town. Tragedy affects everyone differently, showing some the futility of life and others the preciousness of it. It is a tough thing to lose a child, either through divorce, death, or complacency and Green puts it all on display to see whether his characters can continue on or fall forever from grace.
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10/10
Great and Surprising Film
Rodrigo_Amaro18 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The end of two marriages and some of the consequences that comes after with two different couples, two different families and with two different results intersect in the story of "Snow Angels". The Marchand family and The Parkinson family are under some heavy changes and we're gonna see how they're gonna deal with it, if they're gonna act as desperate to make things right again or if they're really trying to do something good or positive of it or not.

Arthur (Michael Angarano) as many other teenagers is confused with many issues, and is conflicted with the recent separation of his parents. Even worst that now his dad (Griffin Dunne) is already going out with another women. Arthur works in a restaurant along with Annie (Kate Beckinsale) who were his babysitter when he was younger and he had crush on her (sill has) but he doesn't move it along to a romantic level because she's a little older for him and she recently ended a relationship with Glenn (Sam Rockwell), a unpredictable and irresponsible man but also the father of their daughter.

Glenn is trying to make things different now. He finds a temporary job, he's more religious, among other things and he wants to get back to Annie but she's already seeing someone, Nate (Nicky Katt) her best friend's husband. Again, love relationships go back and forth here, few right beginnings and too many sad endings. But we have the beautiful relationship between Arthur and Lila (Olivia Thirlby); she tries hard to show to him that she likes him, but he thinks she likes him as a friend, but when they talk to each other and understand how things work, things start to get it right. By the way I think that "awkward and funny" conversations between the two was one of the most realistic things I've ever seen in terms of films.

In the drama is settled right in the beginning that something tragical is going to happen, we're not sure why or what, and the interesting is that when we finally are enjoying the story, seeing the problems of the characters we almost forget this fact. Writer and director David Gordon Green divided the story in a interesting way. A subtle and calm presentation of characters and their lives, then one big event that shocks everyone, and the dramatic result of that event. Annie and Glenn little daughter disappearance is this event, and then she is found dead by Arhtur and his friend. I was surprised with this fact first because the story didn't follow this path, after all, besides the problems between the former couple they are dedicated fathers in their ways; and second, something happened to the girl and here in this movie I wasn't expecting possible answers for what happened, it seemed so right on the line, direct, with no false clues (things that usually occurs in many other films).

After watching Green's "Undertow" (great film about a journey and what happens in it) and this one I can truly say that the director really knows how to make a simple movie interesting, worth watching despite its downer themes, yet he can put some questions and he doesn't force anyone to want answers, they will come naturally as soon as you watch the films and pay attention to details in it or details in life. Sam Rockwell in the role of Glenn has one of the most interesting performances of the movie. I think he's got the most down to earth role of his career, as a loser character who always tries to change things, but he can't for some strange reasons, his changes always takes him to a dangerous way, even fighting with Nate and Annie, or getting drunk. His reactions in the end were shocking yet real in some ways. I really wasn't expecting that. As a warning I say to you that this a matter of discussion for many viewers and many of them disliked the movie because of that. But who cares? Watch it and see it for yourself and think about it. 10/10
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10/10
A masterpiece, much deeper than it is being given credit for
superduperspit8 October 2008
Snow Angels is a film that one release, has been relatively accepted as a competent, straight forward depressing drama. I believe, however, that the themes of this film reach far deeper than that of a typical depressing drama.

Originally, I had read an interpretation of the film praising the contrast between Arthur and Lily's relationship, representing perfect bliss and happiness and hope, and Glen and Annie's relationship of blackness and destruction. However after looking deeper into the film, I believe Snow Angel uses not two relationships to portray its themes, not three, but four: Arthur and Lily, Barb and Nate, Don and Louise Parkinson (Arthur's parents), and finally, Glen and Annie. What's brilliant about this movie is how each one represents a step in the process of a relationship from perfect beginning to total black ending, and how each step bleeds into the next chronologically, going from perfection, to the shattering of this perfection, to the fall in its course, to destruction and death.

Arthur and Lily are the first step, through them we see a relationship's beginning, or really, its birth. We see the first meeting and eyeing, their courting, their first kiss, their first sex... the relationship is born and blossoms and we leave them in perfect happiness. Arthur and Lily are in fact, perfect beings, completely untainted and incapable of wrong.

The line then jumps to Barb and Nate. They represent, simply, the incident that causes the rift or breakup in the couple, the shattering of perfection, the beginning of the fall. While the jump in terms of age and status is big from Arthur and Lily to Barb and Nate, in this case age doesn't matter... the symbolism of going from happiness and stability, to getting hit with the "rift moment", is the same. Barb and Nate get the least screen time and development in this film but their place is essential to this progressive arc.

Continuing where they left off, Don and Louise Parkinson, Arthur's parents, show the results of the incident and separation. They're formally separated, as opposed to Nate being just kicked out of the house. Another difference is that Nate in the film is still a half goofy character (leopard underwear was there for a reason), and is very calm when confronting Glen. Meanwhile Don is seemingly more sombre, he has an air of creepy offness, not yet developed. Don and Louise are obviously on the edge, but with Don's mixtape at the end, we leave them in a moment of most importantly, hope, a dominant theme in the film... Their fate is still ambiguous, they can turn this thing around. Or they can't...

The last step is obviously Glen and Annie, who show what happens when you don't turn it around, when you lose all hope hit total destruction and blackness. They of course, end up falling deeper and deeper into darkness until absolute tragedy, and death.

What's even more brilliant about this is that it ties overall into the basic from comedy to tragedy meter. The basic classification of all stories, is you begin at the top, with comedies, where you have a happy ending and innocent, perfect beings, but as you go further and further down the drop, almost like a fall into a hole, you get more flawed, complex beings who do more and more morally wrong things, until of course you hit the bottom, complete tragedy, and destruction of the human soul completely. These stages are, in essence, symbolized and brought out in Snow Angels. You could also tie the film into our loss of innocence from childhood into less and less joy and more and more frailty as adults, until we finally reach death. I'm no Catholocism expert but I'm guessing you could tie that in there somewhere too... the heaven and hell thing or whatever, or just birth - life - death.

Oh, and has it been mentioned this movie is amazingly acted, shot, and edited? I'd heard the Beckinsale can actually act chatter, but ho.ly. cow... she jumped from Scarlett Johannson level to give her an Oscar level in like one film. Rockwell matches her, just brilliant. With the heavy melodrama these two are asked to pull off, it'd be VERY easy for most actors to slip into overacted and falsehood, but they pull it off immensely. Angarano, Thirlby, stars of the future. Arnette, Dunne, Katt, Sedaris, all great.

Do not miss this film, it's one of the finest of the year

Review written for worldofkj.com/forum
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8/10
Searching for Role Models
gradyharp17 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
SNOW ANGELS is a tough movie from a tough novel by Stewart O'Nan, an author who continues to explore the darker corners of everyday people's lives without necessarily offering a path of redemption for the found flaws. Director David Gordon Green has adapted O'Nan's fine book for the screen, made some odd choices in the narrative line, but manages to maintain the pervasive sad and almost hopeless atmosphere of a little Pennsylvania town in the winter that is besieged by events that bruise the lives of many people.

Arthur (Michael Angarano, who continues to impress with superb acting) is a high school kid, working as a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant where his 'dream girl' (ex-babysitter) Annie (Kate Beckinsale) and Annie's best friend Barb (Amy Sedaris) wait tables, filling his spare time playing trombone in the high school band, and enduring the crumbling marriage of his mother (Jeanette Arnette) and teacher father (Griffin Dunne). Each of the characters we meet has baggage: Annie is separated from her ne're-do-well loser husband Glenn (Sam Rockwell) who haunts her with his desire to see his little daughter Tara while the confused Annie is having an affair with Nate (Nicky Katt), a male nurse, who just happens to be married to Barb. Though Arthur maintains his fascination and puppy love for Annie, he is drawn into the adult world by his fellow student Lila (Olivia Thirlby) who becomes Arthur's first 'romance' and physical experience. As Arthur attempts to form an adult outlook on relationships with Lila, the world in this tiny town becomes increasingly fragile. Little Tara strays from home only to be discovered during the resultant manhunt by Arthur who finds the child frozen in the lake. This tragedy only adds to Arthur's own tenuous coping with becoming an adult, and how Glenn and Annie deal with loss results in a profoundly sad ending that is accompanied by the incidental music of the high school band performing on a winter field in this place where things just happen.

There is little to add light to the story, except that the performances by each of the actors are exceptionally fine. Director Green manages to create a fine ensemble feeling from these actors and while there are few characters with whom we can consistently empathize, Green manages to draw well-focused small town folk who remain in the mind long after the film is ended. Not a happy film, but a solid one. Grady Harp
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9/10
Snow Angels was a movie.
yohance-philip19 November 2009
"Snow Angels" was one of the most brilliant pictures I have ever watched. The range in the movie from the brilliant acting to the outstanding storyline touched my soul deeply.

The first thing that caught my attention was the brilliant setting in the movie. For anyone who has ever lived up north they can relate to the constant snowy overcast depressing days winter brings. The director seemed to capture this setting brilliantly. This was a movie that definitely had to be set in an very somber dejected environment. The snow was brilliant, the cloud cover was outstanding, the cold weather was amazing. They all played a huge role in capturing the underlying theme of the movie.

The story line was also brilliant. A very subtle realistic storyline. There was not the happy ending, there was not the special effect, nor was their the big budget to depend on. The director had to rely on brilliant acting and realistic moments throughout the movie. As angry as Glen made you feel throughout the movie, at some points I also felt very sorry for him. You began to realize that he was a conflicted individual with much deeper issues. You understood that deep in his heart he wanted to be the best for his family. Glen reminded me of a few saddened figures in my life. His frustration and dejected feelings also brought me back to some low points in my life.

But there was a great balance. In the midst of all the depression and anger you had 2 innocent young High School kids wrapped up in innocent love. It reminded my of my first High school love and the natural glow a situation like that brings. I even love how Mr Gordan lightly focused on the declining marriage of Arthurs parents. A scene becoming more common in today's world.

I cannot express my appreciation for Snow Angels. The humble story line and the brilliant acting captivated me. I have watched the movie at least 5 times within the last 2 weeks.
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6/10
More snow than angels
bandw28 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
*Spoilers* Arthur is a high school student working in a Chinese restaurant with Annie who in earlier days was his babysitter. Arthur confesses to having lusted for Annie in those days and you wonder just how old he was when still requiring Annie as a babysitter. Annie has broken up with her husband Glenn who is a suicidal alcoholic, as well as being an agonizingly conflicted evangelical Christian who quotes from the Bible. Glenn is obsessed with getting back with Annie, but she is having an affair with Nate, her best friend's husband. Nate smokes dope and sees other women on the side. Arthur's parents are separating, since his father is having an affair. Arthur is beginning an intimate relationship with classmate Lila.

Too much to digest in one movie you say? I agree. There are several stories here, any one of which might have made a good movie.

This movie does not let up from its foreboding opening that has Arthur's marching band practice interrupted by distant gunshots. From there it spirals downward to the tragic death of a young girl and a ritual murder/suicide. All proceedings take place against a backdrop of cold and snow.

The movie kept my interest but I am puzzled as to what I am supposed to take away from it. Life is messy? Beware of drunks with shotguns? Don't take up with your best friend's spouse? Never nap when alone with a small child? Death is the ultimate repentance?
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1/10
The Consequences of Class - Spoiler
theaugustgirl23 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
In neither the promotional description -- "a story of love lost and found....a heartrending portrayal of three couples in various stages of life" -- nor in some of the love letters disguised as reviews would a viewer have a sense of what an unrelenting and monotone descent into tragedy something as innocently and mysteriously titled as "Snow Angels" is. This is a film not to be watched but endured.

What is far more glaringly apparent and transparent is not the muted themes of age or love as much as it is the story of how problems do or do not work out, depending on where you fall in the food chain. These are not just couples distinguishably different because of their ages. Making an equal comparison to the a single, working class mother who waitresses at a family restaurant and the unstable, unemployed working class man she is married to the young boy she babysat and his parents who reside in quite a different social status with a remarkably different home, lifestyle and set of choices, is simply myopic.

At the end of day and the end of the film, there really is only one "heartrending" message in this bleak and didactic lecture on the "misfit toys" who populate the working class: that the "White Trash," single parenting contingent caught in the cycle of meaningless service jobs with no opportunity for real mental health and counseling intervention other than what comes in crisis as during an arrest) must dutifully accept the ineluctable Jerry Springeresque set of consequences they deserve and let the Greek tragedy of their lives run its course. Meanwhile, the affluent are afforded slow motion long shots and wide smiles and the fulfillment of their desires complete with the soundtrack and dramatic (stadium) lighting of a Hollywood ending.

Green's statement on class and consequences is either an intentional transmission or an inadvertently overt broadcast signal to the viewer. Whatever the case, I'd like to believe some other set of possibilities and some other message about the consequences of class than this film so subversively and dangerously proffers like a morality play.
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4/10
4 out of 10.
harwoodk9 July 2009
After reading about this movie, and others comments I was very keen on checking it out. Unfortunately after doing so I have been strongly disappointed. There are several comments about the strong performances and how people connected to these characters... The entire movie I kept asking myself, "when I am going to start caring?" The movie ended and I couldn't wait to turn it off, I was inclined to fast forward just to see what happens. But painfully watched it to the end.

Although there was some decent performances from Beckinsdale and Angarano, there was utter weakness from Rockwell who seamed more like an confused infant than an ex violent alcoholic. On top of that, the scripting and acting of Tara was nail biting, and overall I felt as if I was in another world where the rules of communication no longer applied. I could go on, but I strongly feel that this movie does not deserve the 7.2 that is currently listed and that you be careful before spending your time with this one.
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6/10
Snow Angels Leaves You Cold
novagarp2 January 2009
Snow Angels is set in a small town in America during a non-specific time. There are few details that define or accentuate time and place. It could be any small town, USA, and for all we know, it could be the present. All we really know is that it is cold and wintertime. Directed by David Gordon Green, Snow Angels is a somber, affecting meditation on sadness and fate, based on the novel written by Stewart O'Nan. It chronicles two weeks in the life of the central characters, whose lives are all connected in some way.

The movie begins with striking images of winter, barren trees and snow. A high school marching band is rehearsing outdoors for the football game. They are lethargic and out of tune. Their instructor chides them, and we here the sound of what might be gunshots in the distance. Everything stops and the story goes back to two weeks prior, where the characters are introduced. We see Arthur (Michael Angarano) the high school student busing tables in a Chinese restaurant. He works with his older friend Annie, played by Kate Beckinsale, the newly separated mother who used to baby-sit for Michael when he was young. Annie gives Arthur a ride home when his mother forgets to pick him up. Arthur's parents, played by Jeanette Arnette and Griffin Dunne, are also going through a separation.

Later we meet Annie's estranged husband Glen, played by Sam Rockwell. Early on we learn that he has had problems with drinking and keeping a job and even tried to take his own life as a result of his life apart from Annie and the baby. Somehow, he survived the suicide and has become a born again Christian, but his stability remains uncertain. We also meet the new student Lila, played by Olivia Thirlby, who befriends Arthur. Lila is the outsider who takes photographs as a hobby. She is on the outside literally peering in, like the audience. Early on, she shows Arthur her photographs of the town. Since her family moves around a lot, she likes to take pictures of her first impressions of the new places she moves to. They are beautiful portraits, all black and white, mostly of them empty landscapes and snow. Coldness and alienation is a constant theme that wraps around the characters to a nearly suffocating extent.

Green's direction is deliberate and slowly paced. The camera rests patiently upon the characters, giving them time to grow and breathe. Even in awkward moments, as there are in the life of a teenager, and in the tension rising moments of the adults who are enduring emotional pain, the shots are long and deliberate, with a quiet, gentle soundtrack that does not try to manipulate or force the action. Green allows the dialog and the performances of the actors drive the story. There is no melodrama, just painfully sad realities.

Snow Angels has the feel of an independent film in its simple story-telling and without bloated production values or faux sentimentality or gimmicky performances. It feels like real life, real people in a real town. The only problem is that it's real, real sad. In fact, it's too sad. Despite the artful direction and nuanced performances, the film itself has little balance, nothing to contrast the heavy weight of angst that smothers the characters as well as the audience. Fargo, (1996), was a similar movie – a tragic tale of human failings, set in a vast, winter of emptiness. And yet, there were many contrasting elements which balanced the mood, such as hilarious dialog and mannerisms, a riveting, driving musical score and shocking, unexpected violence. Many aspects of that film were recognized for achievement in film-making and I believe it even received Best Picture at the Academy Awards. I would also dare say that this movie energized the careers of several of its little known actors and deservedly so, including Steve Buscemi, William H. Macy and Frances McDormand. But Snow Angels provides no such relief from its oppressive tone. I get the feeling that Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale needed an immediate retreat to a warm, tropic island after making this picture, (or at least a few sessions of therapy), and through no fault of their own. Their performances are great, but the movie, over all, leaves you with the need for immediate cleansing or escape, to anywhere that's warm.
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3/10
Pointless and depressing slices of life
lance2415 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The first thing I said to my friend, who has worked in the movie business for 30 years, after we exited the theater, was "What was this movie about?" I still don't know. Here's what I do know. You won't see a more depressing movie this year and, as the film lacks any meaning, you won't find a more fatal combo. This ensemble piece would have us believe that every adult living in the small town in which the film takes place, has nothing but problems causing endless unhappiness. Story primarily follows Beckinsale and Rockwell, high school sweetheats, who are now separated. Rockwell is a totally unlikable character who moves between alcoholism, depression, self-hatred and religious foibles. I could never figure out why Beckinsale was with him. She's the type of girl who always escapes this small town dreariness and winds up in LA or NY, usually on the arm of some millionaire. That being said, anyone paying the slightest attention could even see the tragic end coming from the first or second scene. Also, the happy relationship between the two teenagers gives us a hopeful ending that contradicted everything else in the film and was dishonest. The only thing we could reasonably expect is that they, too, would wind up as unhappy as every adult in this picturesque, yet miserable town. The acting was the only thing that saved the film from being a total disaster. Sometimes I wonder whether the indie film movement exists so that films like this can get made. While it is true that some of the great films of the last 20 years have come out of the indie scene, there needs to be some limits on uber-depressing films that illuminate nothing more than misery. Don't be misled by some of the comments that you've read on this site and elsewhere. A total bummer.
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5/10
How to Have a Short Miserable Life
cdelacroix120 April 2008
I saw this movie today, 2 days after it opened here in Tulsa. And on the whole, I didn't like it. This movie does have some good features IMHO, but mostly it seems to belong to that genre of misogynistic movies in which misery is the main, though uncredited, character. Just not my cup of tea; but to each his or her own.

The acting is on the whole fairly good, with a special standout performance by Sam Rockwell as Glenn. But the characters are drawn so unpleasantly that it's very hard for me to feel much sympathy for any character over the age of 17. When I think about it, that's an interesting datum: but that age-divide doesn't seem to be a theme to be explored at all in this movie; it's just a coincidence. But generally the movie seems to be driven by a desire to depict any and all adults as unappealingly as possible. That to me doesn't make for a very engaging movie; and does make for a very unpleasant script.

There are some nice scenes, and some interesting camera technique ... such as focusing on a face and then slowly drifting left or right till the face is out of the picture, even though the character is still at the center of a scene. I think that makes for some interesting camera work, but of course the execution really reinforces the generally misogyny of the movie ... and if the movie doesn't "like" its own characters enough to treat them with greater respect, why should I? I do think there's much to be said for tragedy as a genre ... but this almost seems the opposite, in a way, because tragedy always treats the tragic hero or heroine with some sense of honor, decency, and respect. This movie depicts largely self-inflicted misery and seems intent on an absurdist treatment of such misery that is far from respectful or humanistic, but rather dystopian and disrespectful.

To anyone thinking about seeing this movie: unless stories about unappealing people wallowing in self-inflicted misery is inviting, I would recommend a pass on this movie.
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