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Clip these Wings!!! Snow Angels review


Snow Angels

Fractured relationships, infidelity and regret move on the opposite end of love's new promise in David Gordon Green's Snow Angels. Set in a small town where everyone knows your name, Kate Beckinsale drops her slender goth outfit from Underworld for a modest Chinese restaurant server uniform. She plays Annie, an early 30-something mom who struggles to balance her responsibilities for her daughter with the constant imposition from her separated husband Glenn, performed by Moon's Sam Rockwell(You want to know more about Mr. Rockwell and Moon, go to bitterbalcony.com. We never miss a chance for self-advertising!).

Glenn is a mentally and emotionally destroyed individual, who battles his alcoholism and inability to maintain a job by clinging to his newfound conversion to Christianity. As he tries to connect with his estranged wife and daughter, Annie makes things more complicated for herself by having and affair with her friend Barb's(Amy Sedaris)husband Nate(Nicky Katt,who plays jerks in so many films all his characters should be named Mr.Douche). Annie is a sad sort of woman, a rare beauty that can't move forward, whether by the ties of her past or the choices given in front of her present.

Annie's restaurant busser, Arthur(Michael Angarano) is a teenager who is about to face the growing pains of adulthood, as well as the enthusiasm of first love. Arthur, who Annie babysitted while she was in high school, shows her the affection of as kid brother while concealing his attraction for her.

He reveals his curiosity for girls to her, while also speaking of his parent's recent separation. Arthur, who is shy but with a bit of mischief, spends his after school hours playing for the school band with his best friend, making fun on the music teacher's weirdness. It's his only diversion from a broken home, where all the explanations by his father from the split don't add up. What awaits for Arthur is his initiation in human coupling, where a cute, nerdy girl Lila(Olivia Thirlby) arrives at the high school and sets her sights on the timid kid.

David Gordon Green follows Annie's angst decline and juxtaposes it with Arthur's spring seasoned rise. Annie, who once was enamored by Glenn's humor and energy, now can't believe she ever saw something in him. She also must face Barb's ire when she finds out Annie is Nate's cheating partner. Her problems spiral out of control when her daughter goes missing. Glenn pushes harder to reach to her, more out of some reproach and hurt than out of genuine affection.

As for Arthur, his discovery of sex and companionship lies in bliss. Time slows down for the young man, and like anything new, it is incorruptibly pure. He might be shocked that at one point these declarations of love were as true for not only Annie and Glenn, but also for his parents. Both Annie's and Arthur's character examinations stem from the same place, that emotions are not guided by practical, or even rational, conclusions.

Before I begin to pick on this movie, I want to say that I like David Gordon Green. He is a young guy(he's around my age) who really seems to understand people and their communities, and what responses to situations come about for folks from the lesser known zip codes. George Washington, All The Real Girls, and Undertow(I'll add a post in the underrated section for this movie at some point)combine colorful characters in despairing circumstances with a Terrence Malick touch of flora poetry and reflective storytelling. I was motivated to see The Pineapple Express since he got hired by the Seth Rogen crew to add flavor to a bland stoner comedy, but I think he was a bit out of his element. He does have a great film in him, but Snow Angels is not it.

The melodramatic overtones hinder Snow Angels from ever being more than just a lifetime movie with better production value. Gordon Green fails to capture insight of his main character's dilemma: Annie, who is at the center of the storm, never evokes a reaction to her problems that you feel authentic. Maybe this is a critique of Kate Beckinsale as well, because it is such a going through the motions performance that never digs deep as it should. I tried to sympathize with her but there is something very unconvincing about Annie's portrayal.

As for Arthur, his involvement is plainly symbolic, and comes in and out of the movie conveniently enough just as a plot device. I feel Gordon Green should have added more weight to the character, in order to not only show the positive aspects of love, but to hint on the character's experience as his initiation into maturity.

Rockwell fares better as the volatile Glenn. His twitches and expressions show a man who is wrestling to appear levelheaded but is an anger fit away from causing harm towards Annie and himself. Unfortunately, the one lead with some dynamic happens to be the guy you either pity or dislike.

The one character I felt something for was for Amy Sedaris' Barb. In a dramatic turn, the overlooked comedian convinces as a blue collar middle age woman angered by her friend's unnecessary betrayal, but is ernest enough to forgive and comfort Annie in her darkest hour.

Gordon Green trademark narration sequences with the characters sharing hallmark moments feels thrown in. A scene with Arthur and Lila are hugging and sharing affection towards each other in between class periods seems added for style instead of substance. I just felt that it would have worked better if the character had more meat, or would have been the story's narrator. I couldn't get a read on why Gordon Green had the camera moving when Arthur and his father stops in the middle of a conversation. Were they sharing a private moment we are not suppose to follow on, or has the father's unfounded explanations seem neverending to Arthur? It is not that I don't like leaving room for interpretation, but randomness is entirely different. For a movie that wants to warm up human interactions, its' flat delivery will leave you buried in snow.




Directed by: David Gordon Green
Written by: David Gordon Green and Stewart O'nan
Cast: Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale

Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

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