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_First Snow_ is a tense thriller, but it's entirely psychological, with no violence to speak of. Alfred Hitchcock knew that what's going on in a character's mind can be more interesting than what's going on in reality--as he demonstrated so well in _Vertigo_. _First Snow_ doesn't rise to the level of that classic film, but it's well worth a watch.
Because of its premise, there is an inexorable feel throughout _First Snow_ that we're moving toward something climactic. Vacaro, a fortune teller, played gracefully by J.K. Simmons, tells an arrogant, shifty salesman Jimmy Starks (Guy Pearce) that he will not live beyond the first snow in the upper desert of New Mexico--which, according to the weatherman on the radio, is coming soon. But he has no specific information about how Starks will die.
Needless to say, Starks becomes paranoid and starts ruminating about things he's done in the past that might lead to his demise. There's one red herring, but he eventually realizes the real danger.
The film is a slow burn. It patiently works its way to an ending that is both tragic and thought-provoking. Many critics thought the ending was contrived or not handled well. I disagree. I thought it was perfectly appropriate to the theme of fate versus choice in our lives. And I liked the way the ending was presented. It's not a big violent blow-up scene. It's quiet and straightforward, consistent with the whole feel of the film.
Guy Pearce turns in a strong performance as a man whom we don't like at first because he's such a bullshitter, but as he suffers through his psychological torture, we find ourselves caring about his fate. Supporting actor William Fichtner, as Starks' fellow salesman Ed, is perfect as Starks' foil and buddy.
Piper Perabo, as Starks' girlfriend, is adequate, but her part is under-written. We really know nothing about her.
But maybe that's intentional. This movie is about one self-absorbed man's fate, and everyone else is peripheral.
Action / thriller fans will hate this movie.Viewers who like subtle, psychological / existential movies will appreciate it. Definite 4 stars.
By the way, in the last couple of minutes, note the pickup truck on the road when the radio announcer delivers the bad news. It looks like Vacaro's. Clever.
Starts promising but fizzles to not much.
"Your fate lies on whatever road you take. Even if you choose to run from it"
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.
A slow burner but a well acted drama from Guy Pearce and Piper Perabo.
An interesting meditation on the nature of fate. Pearce does an excellent job in the lead role, as well.
Intriguing slice of neo-noir; Pearce is captivatingly good--Getting the most out of a simple plot!!
not good, being mild.
Good psychological thriller
Pearce did a good job
A good and well acted film however the end, although it is is good it is how it is, could have been done with a little more tension. Left me feeling flat.