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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