Wednesday, December 23, 2009

First Snow

I like a good thriller. I have a general set of guidelines that apply to the movies I watch, with some weighted more heavily for certain genres. For thrillers, I expect a degree of uncertainty and maybe a decent plot twist or two. First Snow fell short on that mark. I had the ending figured out within the first fifteen or twenty minutes.

First Snow is otherwise well constructed. The characters are engaging with decent personality traits. The dialogue was well written. The plot concept was strong enough to be worthy of a movie. Although there were some minor sub-plots that attempted misdirection and twists, they were not meaty enough for my taste. A major plot twist near the end would have satisfied me and eleveated this movie a bit higher for me.

First Snow starts out with a man (Jimmy Starks, played by Guy Pearce) seeming to recount recent events. He is pulled over on the side of the highway with blood on his face. It is snowing. The film then flashes back to a dusty roadside stop where Starks has stopped to have his car repaired. After a brief visit to the bar, Starks ventures outside to several vendors who have makeshift shops to sell a variety of tourist-type trinkets. Starks by-passes the Jack-a-lopes to the last trailer, where Vacaro (J.K. Simmons) does psychic readings. Vacaro gives Starks a reading that ends up consuming Starks to the point of paranoia. The events that play out following the reading lead Starks down an inevitable road, where misunderstandings only further the hole he seems to be digging for himself.

I enjoyed Guy Pearce, who has impressed me recently with his outstanding work in The Hurt Locker. Pearce has the grittiness that made his character believable. Slightly scared but with a great poker face. We didn't get to see much of Starks' girlfriend Dierdre (Piper Perabo), but Perabo was solid when we did get to see her (although we could have seen more...she had on clothing during her sex scene). Starks has volatile relationship with his former business partner Andy (Rick Gonzalez). The scenes between these two had an interesting intensity. Two strong characters squared off. They were both convincing...and equally believable when they like each other. William Fichtner plays one of Pearce's friends and business associates (and confidante). Fichtner seems just weird enough to be lovable. The cast was well chosen to fill the interesting roles created for this film.

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