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Snow Angels | DVD Review

“…shimmers with its fine performances and the sort of craftsmanship that is almost on par with Green’s impressive directorial debut in George Washington.”

Before making the leap into mainstream Pineapple Express territory, American indie filmmaker David Gordon Green trekked towards the frigid north of the Nova Scotia landscape for the kind of tragi-drama that is downbeat in nature, but shimmers with its fine performances and the sort of craftsmanship that is almost on par with Green’s impressive directorial debut in George Washington.

Among the films that stood out from the selected grouping of titles at the 2007 edition of the Sundance film festival, Snow Angels would be picked up by the folks at the now defunct Warner Independent Pictures. The indie distributor picked up the film but instead of picking an autumn release date for that same year, they gave it a limited theatrical run in March of 2008. In a full three-month run it it made about 4 times more money than his previous release Undertow, but by profit making standards it fell short of box office expectations.

Working from the outline of Stewart O’Nan’s novel, David Gordon Green’s screenplay announces from the get-go that the ending of the film will bring some from of resolve in the shape of calamity, but throughout, the picture’s tonality isn’t poisoned by an overall sense of grief or dread, instead there is a hearty helping of middle America trying to make wounds heal quicker and trying to move on with life. Green made some worthy casting choices here; Amy Sedaris and Kate Beckinsale are pegged in characters that are perhaps the antithesis of all the roles that we might have seen them in their individual careers up to that date. Not surprisingly, Sam Rockwell delivers another rock solid performance in a character that is truly complicated. Layered in such a way that we might see on the surface his psychological and emotional maturity, the protagonist’s instability comes with a sense that if given the chance, he is capable of re-addressing his own fate.

Unfortunately, the disc comes with zero extras, which is a shame since a director/cast commentary would have illuminated us on the realization of the project and clue us in on style, location and casting choices.
DGG fans will want to add this to their library, but as a stand alone option, this is worth one or two attentive viewings.

Green’s fourth film will probably stand out as a seminal work among adaptations that come from other source materials, fans of the filmmaker and cinephiles who enjoy weather extremes with temper mentality such as Ang Lee’s Ice Storm will enjoy this drama that is filled with well-rounded performances, Tim Orr’s exquisite camera work, and Green’s assured storytelling techniques and poetic rendering of character interactions.

Movie rating – 3.5

Disc Rating – 2

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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