Monday, June 04, 2007

Snow Cake

Snow Cake is one of those movies that doesn't really seem to be doing a lot wrong, but never really captured my attention. I was thinking of a lot of things that had nothing to do with the movie while watching it, such as what Sigourney Weaver is doing in this part.

Honestly - are there so few parts available for a woman in her fifties that she winds up in this, playing an autistic character who seldom seems like more than a series of mannerisms? It's not a bad performance, and I imagine the part looks more interesting than ____'s strong-willed mother/grandmother, but there's really not that much to Linda. Part of it's the movie star thing; seeing someone who has been one of the strongest, most interesting women on-screen for thirty years all but imitating a child plays havoc with one's image, but that would be okay if Weaver had a character interesting enough to overcome that baggage (although I feel kind of strange saying that Ellen Ripley is "baggage").

Ah, well. I just noticed that the last of my five-for-$33 passes at Landmark has to be used by Thursday; probably should have used one on Paprika or this. Guess I'm seeing Paris, Je t'aime this week.

Snow Cake

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 3 June 2007 at Landmark Kendall Square #9 (first-run)

Alan Rickman is an underappreciated treasure. It sounds like an odd thing to say, because he's been a quite memorable part of some huge hits, but movies where he's the feature attraction appear and disappear quickly and quietly (if they do that; ask EFC writer Jason Whyte about the distribution of The Search for John Gissing sometime). Snow Cake isn't that great a movie, but you'd think Rickman and Sigourney Weaver would at least draw some notice.

Rickman plays Alex Hughes, just out of jail and just arrived in northern Ontario, aiming to drive to Winnipeg to meet an old friend. On the way, he meets Vivienne Freeman (Emily Hampshire), a young wannabe writer looking for a ride to Wawa. The chatty Vivienne eventually gets under the taciturn Alex's skin, and just as they're arriving in town, a semi plows into the rental car. Afterward, a dazed Alex feels the need to visit Vivienne's mother Linda (Sigourney Weaver), only to find that she's a high-functioning autistic who depends on Vivienne for many everyday difficulties. He agrees to stay long enough to take out the garbage on Tuesday, but it's not all bad; Linda's neighbor Maggie (Carrie-Anne Moss) seems pretty nice.

Rickman is excellent. As always, his deep voice with a bit of a sneer just drips sarcasm when it's called for, but that's not all he's called on to do. His bafflement at Linda's behavior is something we share, and it evolves to acceptance without ever losing track of how difficult Linda can be. There's a lot of guilt wrapped up in the character, but Rickman doesn't simply spend the movie hunched over in self-pity. Underneath Alex's brusque exterior is a caring person, and Rickman knows how to play guilty without being paralyzed.

Full review at EFC.


Jason Whyte said...

"if they do that; ask EFC writer Jason Whyte about the distribution of The Search for John Gissing sometime"

Gissing is FINALLY coming out on DVD in either late June or early July, and is being put out by Binder's production company instead of thru a distributor.

I'm currently working on obtaining a review copy of the DVD and arranging an interview with Mr. Binder on why the hell this movie took five years to come out!

The Other Jason

Jason said...

Glad to hear it; I remember you raving about it five or six years ago, and every time I've had occasion to look at Rickman's IMDB page since I would follow the links to see that there was no DVD. Sometimes films get caught in distribution limbo - I had to dig two years back into the archives to send BostonNOW a review of Casting About this week - but for something with Rickman and Janeane Garafolo to completely disappear is bizarre.