First Snow Reviews
Guy Pearce is a very talented actor that hasn't quite achieved the leading man credentials he so thoroughly deserves. However, he still has a knack for choosing great roles. The real gems among his work tends to be lower budget indie fair. Some can hit the quality heights of Memento or L.A. Confidential and reach a mass audience while others become respectful career choices that tend to slip under the radar. Personally, I think Pearce's choices are always very interesting and First Snow is a prime example of his astute eye for a good role and project.
Jimmy Starks (Pearce) is a cocky salesman who's car breaks down outside a desolate New Mexico town. To pass the time he pays a visit to a roadside fortune teller (J.K. Simmons). Although skeptical, Jimmy soon realises that the psychic is no con man and he's told that his future is very bleak. In fact, he's told that his life will come to an end when the first snow arrives, leaving Jimmy to explore how his fate will be sealed.
Making his directorial debut, screenwriter Mark Fergus (Children of Men, Iron Man) sets his stall up with a metaphysical tale that wouldn't be out of place in a Twilight Zone episode. The premise is simple (but all the more effective for it) and there are elements that also bring reminders of Pearce's Leonard Shelby from Memento. With a similar claustrophobic edge, his character is holed up in his apartment - or the occasional motel room - having anxious discussions on the telephone that may or may not seal his fate. It's this psychological angle that really benefits this impressive and intriguingly abstract neo-noir.
It's very well shot and the always reliable Pearce adds another solid character to his resume. He shows great range and holds the whole film together with his ability to switch from cocksure arrogance to paranoid wreck and has you delighted when it comes to watching him squirm. Pearce's effortless range really brings his character to the fore but what also works is it's haunting atmosphere and ability to maintain it's eeriness and mystery on such a low-key scale.
It's a slow burner that explores the theoretical themes of predestination and self-determination and has you constantly wondering how events will pan out for our conscience-stricken protagonist. Unfortunately, the destination of his repentant road doesn't end as well as it should. After a such a gripping build up, the pay-off feels rushed and unsatisfactory but up until this point it's a very involving thriller.
An impressive feature debut from Mark Fergus and on this evidence it's a shame that he hasn't stepped behind the camera since. The ending may let it down but this is still a taut, psychological mystery that deserves to receive a wider audience.
At the core I kept asking myself, if I believed I was to die come the first snow, would I spend my few precious days running around trying to figure out who and how he was going to die, so that he could prevent it? Sounds counter intuitive to me; the psychic never said he could change his fate, so why did he think that he could?
In the end, he survives all that he thought could harm him, but in doing so, put himself in the wrong place at the wrong time; whether he would have been killed anyway, somewhere else, is a matter for speculations on fate and destiny; which I surmise is what the director had in mind, but a more focussed script would have made the journey a lot more satisfying.
First of all, with having a fine of William Fichnter and Guy Pearce it already caught my attention...but this is a little bit about what you might come to expect.
This is a story about Jimmy Starks, some smooth-talking saleman who is convinced he's gonna make it big soon. His car comes to stall in the middle of some little desert town, he doesn't seem all that fazed. To kill time while the local mechanic fixes the car he goes into the bar and grabs some food and a drink...the whole time trying to convince the bar-tender to buy some kind of jukebox. Losing interest in the place, he wanders a bit aways from various venders when he comes to a small trailer where a man, J.K. Simmons, has a sign stating 'fortunes told'. Jimmy, slightly interested about what would happen naturally goes in fro a reading. What happens next is something very strange after telling him that betting on the winning basketball team isn't in his favour and that he'll make it big from Dallas, Texas...the foretune teller all of a sudden has a spasm. And then sends the salesman on his way, naturally trying to figure out what it was he hands him more money...but the teller will have nothing more to say.
He finally gets home and everything seems to be going quite normal and in his favour...until some strange things occur. Coincidences, even! Finally, curious after something a little worry-some occurs he heads back and learns that the teller sees 'no more roads, no more'. Agitated to be hearing this, he presses the man to tell him when and for how long? The teller finally assures him that he won't make it till the first snow.
As he gets back home, the feeling eats at him as simultaneously those 'dead calls' from telemarketers turn out to be something a little more foreboding...and when he gets a nice little package in the mail...Jimmy slowly travels into a downward spiral.
He becomes increasingly more paranoid, separating himself from his friends, work and even his girlfriend. He's shackled wondering if his past is coming back to haunt him and for good reason too.
Then, as the weather progressively gets colder and colder Jimmy becomes more and more worried...and takes measures into his own hands to ensure the first snow won't have anything to do with 'no more roads to travel'.
For the most part, I found this movie alright...and being that I absolutely adore Guy Pearce's acting...it wasn't hard to keep watching. There was just something about this film that really caught me off guard. One of those movies that slide under the radar..and take a long time to unravel the plot at hand. Once again, subjective...but it might make you wonder yourself...not about fortune tellers or first snows...but about 'fate' and what it has to do with humanity, itself.
[font=Century Gothic]"First Snow" begins promisingly enough but does nothing new with a plot that has been around since Ancient Greece.(While none of us can escape our fate, we can however make life interesting in the interregnum.) Basically, there is less substance(pretty much all red herrings) than the average episode of "The Twilight Zone," which it sort of resembles, especially concerning the supporting characters and a central conflict that comes out of left field. What it desperately needed was a kicker to give the movie desperately needed irony. It is a shame because the movie wastes some nice photography and a good cast notably J.K. Simmons who perfectly conveys the pain of how his character has been cursed, not blessed. [/font]
Date Night: No
Art Factor: Medium
Fun Factor: Low
Emotional Factor: Low
Intelligence Required: Medium
Essential Viewing: No
Is it just me, or does Guy Pierce work harder at getting himself into orginal scripts than any other top shelf actor in the business? This guy could be making all kinds of filler movies for paychecks in my opinion but instead we get lots of great performances in smaller films that recieve hardly any press and turn out to be better than expected. This thought process holds true in First Snow. A film about a guy who learns more than most would want to, Pierce is the star here in every sense. The script isn't quiet as good as the premise, but it is still better than most. Director Mark Fergus shows some talent with the lens, but needs to work on pacing just a wee bit. The supporting cast was expectedly good in some places (J.K. Simmons) and suprisingly good in others (Piper Perabo). With a bit of that pacing issue worked out this could have easily scored higher with me. If you get sick of the same old formulas for flicks I highly recommend you check this one out. No, it won't blow your hair back, but it will keep your eyes open for what's around the corner. One of the better "one man's obession" flicks I have seen in a while. And once again, support Guy Pierce. We need more great actors like this one.
Guy Pearce needs more work. He?s brilliant. Why isn?t he as popular as Russell Crowe? He?s what this movie needs because everything else is so subtle. Even the resolution is easy to miss. And I don?t think that is the way to get a movie, plot or points of emphasis noticed by people. And that?s why I tuned out so often with this movie. It?s not a new concept, and not told in a unique way, so the subtle scenes just tended to lose me.