Sundance Review: Snow Angels
by Alex Billington
January 29, 2007
From independent director David Gordon Green comes his latest dramatic film, Snow Angels, starring Kate Beckinsale as Annie and Sam Rockwell as Glenn. The two are recently separated husband and wife with a very young daughter living in a small town in Pennsylvania. Additionally thrown into the mix are high school aged Arthur (Michael Angarano), who works at the same restaurant and is friends with Kate, and his newfound girlfriend Lila (Olivia Thirlby). Rockwell is a past alcoholic who's recently taken up religion and is trying every way he can to spend more time with his daughter and get back his wife. Snow Angels is a drama in its entirety, packed with plenty of dramatic material: drugs, pot smoking, domestic disputes, and loads of tragedy and death.
Snow Angels is intense and incredibly tragic, but still a story with some hope at the end (adapted from a book). At least David Gordon Green was smart enough not to make the same mistake as other films at Sundance and leave us with a hopeless ending - he does the opposite and turns out a film with a much more invigorating ending. It was one of the only films at Sundance where my heart was beating in anticipation and fear. Sam Rockwell gives an enormously earnest performance, one of the best of any film at Sundance. In addition, Beckinsale, who typically takes on rather glimmering roles like in Underworld, also gives a worthy performance as the mother. My heart also goes out to Olivia Thirlby, who made me fall head-over-heals in love with her idiosyncratic character that gives the greatest feeling of hope at the end.
Snow Angels is yet another great small town drama built upon some of the best performances of the festival. It's really hard to like a movie with this much tragedy, and I mean a lot of tragedy, but David Gordon Green has created a film that you can enjoy, and that's when you know you've found an exceptional cinematic gem.