First Snow **
Directed by Mark Fergus
Written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby
Guy Pearce as Jimmy
Piper Perabo as Deirdre
William Fictner as Ed
J.K. Simmons as Vacaro
Shea Whigham as Vincent
Rick Gonzalez as Andy Lopez
Adam Scott as Tom Morelane
101 Minutes(Rated R for language, some violence and sexuality.)
"First Snow" was not the engrossing and engaging thriller that I had hoped it would be. It was actually a bit of a shame to see the final product, and I left the theatre in a sort of dazed state of tiredness. There were moments here that just simply bored me, and I just wasn't interested in how anything would turn out. And then there was that cop out of an ending, which came out of nowhere. I guess there was a slightly interesting commentary and topic to ponder, but ultimately the entire film was just a waste of my time. Just a slightly intelligent screenplay with mediocre performances. And this is from the slowly growing Yari Film Group, who produced two masterpieces of "The Illusionist" and "The Painted Veil," but now resort to things like "First Snow" and "Gray Matters." They cannot build a high reputation if they follow the path they are on now. When I walked out of the theatre there was even a woman from Yari Film Releasing giving out an exit survey. While they have produced some very good films in the past, it was a shame to give this woman a low grade on the movie her company was behind. I suppose that the best way to think about this film is that it's "Memento"-lite, and this comparison is made even deeper through the setting ,and the fact that its Guy Pearce in both films.
Here, Pearce plays Jimmy, a cocky and somewhat self centered flooring salesman, who one day wants to branch out and start selling jukeboxes. To try and get some experience and some customers he will sometimes go on long road trips to find people to buy these jukeboxes. On one of these trips his car breaks down and he has to pull over at a gas station. Since it'll take a good day for the car to be fixed, Jimmy tries to occupy himself. When the local bar gets boring he sees a little fortune teller on the side of the road. Going inside for kicks, Jimmy gets a reading, under the impression that it's all a show. The man tells him things-he has a girl waiting for him, and that he will be getting money from Dallas. The teller suddenly gets a seizure like reaction to something, and demands that Jimmy leaves. When he returns home to his young girlfriend Deirdre, Jimmy learns of a business venture with his company where he will be promised money from Dallas. And suddenly he gets a health scare regarding his heart. Now he is suspicious. He returns to the teller wanting to know what happens, and all the teller says is that he will be fine up until the first snow of the season. From this point on Jimmy gets set into a large chain of events which lead to another meeting with Vincent, a former business partner that Jimmy betrayed causing Vincent to spend a few years in jail, all up until the first snow of the season where Jimmy will see if he'll survive or not.
The cool part about "First Snow" is the concept that is highlighted throughout the film. And that is we all make our own choices. Jimmy knew that he was going to run into a problem on the first snow, and he kept dragging himself through event after event up until the third act. And it seems like everything in his life was leading up to that moment. Small confrontations and actions all lead up to some final act. It makes you think about your own life, and how the smallest thing might possibly lead to your downfall. This concept is interesting, and it does justify some scenes throughout that may seem pointless and out of place. There is a lot of "business talk" with Jimmy and his bosses, but in the end it is these conversations that both show who Jimmy is, and lead to Jimmy's downfall. But it is the execution that was the downfall of "First Snow." The script and dialogue is just very tedious and, ultimately, boring. The rather unoriginal story did not improve matters either. I didn't really care what was going to happen to Jimmy. I did until he starting digging around, which is when the hour and forty minutes went on for an eternity. Guy Pearce does a somewhat decent job, but this is familiar to him. He went around seedy motel rooms pressing people for information in "Memento," which had a much more original story AND style. "First Snow" is a talky thriller that gets nowhere.
The cinematography is fairly decent, and the shots once the snow actually comes are beautiful. This marks the directing debut of Mark Fergus who penned the masterpiece "Children of Men," and it's obvious where his cinematographic influences come from. It was also nice to see J.K. Simmons, a rather underrated actor, in a role that lasts more than ten minutes. This may even be his second longest role in a film that I have ever seen, right after "The Ladykillers" which was pretty big. "First Snow" just wasn't the kind of film that I wanted it to be. I wanted a more edgy and interesting and intense thriller. I wanted a fleshed out character solving a mystery. Instead I got an interesting concept with no decent story to back it up. Fergus doesn't just need a message, he needs style too, otherwise his message is just wasting around, freezing to death in the snow.