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Film review: Snow Angels

by Archives March 25, 2008

Snow angels are defined as depressions in the snow. Snow Angels, directed by David Green and based on the novel by Stewert O’Nan takes a raw look at the tragedy and joy of three intertwining couples’ stories set in a small snowy town.
Arthur (Michael Angarno) connects all the stories, as he deals with his parents separating, flirts with his old babysitter Annie (Kate Beckinsale) while she deals with her broken marriage, and starts his own relationship with Lila (Olivia Thirlby), the new nerdy girl at school.
Arthur’s story is the first focus, as we meet his parents, his friends, his love interest, but once we meet Annie, her story becomes the main plot. Arthur’s subplot is wonderfully woven in and provides light in what could be a much darker film.
Annie has recently separated from her husband Glenn (Sam Rockwell) because they grew apart. She tries to take care of their toddler Tara, while protecting her from Glenn, who has recently tried to kill himself.
Glenn tries to become a better father and husband by getting his life on track, but he continues to drink. Both Glenn and Annie struggle to be parents to Tara, depending on their own parents to pick up the slack.
The tension explodes when Glenn discovers Annie is having an affair with Nate (Nicky Katts), juxtaposed with Arthur’s innocent childhood crush on Annie. At the same time Arthur matures and starts seeing his parents as separate people with their own problems, and learns to stand up and communicate. These events all intertwine until tragedy strikes.
This film is full of strong performances, especially from Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell. There is always an underlying tenderness between them, even in the most violent and tragic situations. Beckinsale is far from her usual blockbuster film and takes Annie on a hard journey, trying to make the right choices for her daughter. Olivia Thrilby from Juno fame as Juno’s best pal stands out as geeky-indie Lila.
The film’s images are poignant with the snow’s glaring white and the bright red of Michael’s band uniform. The snow traps its characters and isolates them along with the audience.
Snow Angels is reminiscent of Ang Lee’s Ice Storm (1997) with its ’70s tone, as well as the infidelity and violence behind closed doors.

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