Snow Angels (David Gordon Green,
It feels like it's been a while since a film brought me to tears, and while I wasn't expecting this excellent drama to sneak up on me like it did, it did, and I cried. At first Snow Angels gives the impression it is going to be another slightly left-of-centre American indie film (though it's Canadian), the type that gets touted as a Sundance film. It's not quite quirky, and certainly no Little Miss Sunshine, but a little idiosyncratic. It reminds me ever so slightly of Offset, a film that screened at the German Film Festival in Melbourne this year. Both films give the appearance of going down a well-worn track, yet skillfully avoid clichés and stereotypes, delivering emotional truths and naturalistic scenarios against expectation.
The film focuses on a number of inter-twined relationships within a small town. Glenn (Sam Rockwell, in perhaps the performance of his career thus far) and Annie (Kate Beckinsale, also excellent) are the main characters - their separation has caused much grief. Annie is finding love elsewhere, while Glenn can't let go. There is also a young child in the middle. Other characters have drama of their own. Arthur (Michael Angarano) is experiencing first love with Lila (Olivia Thirlby). The nuanced character development is excellent. There is no good guy/bad guy thing happening - these are real people who are capable of both good and bad (to put it simply).
The story is very accessible and many people will relate to the unfolding drama. What I didn't expect was for some of the realistic interactions and the tragic outcomes. What seems to start as a light and pleasing film packs a powerful punch that left me affected for some time after. For me, the film recalls others such as Paul Schraeder's Affliction and James Marsh's The King. Snow Angels is more accessible than both those films.
I've not seen any previous films by David Gordon Green, though I did note that he was credited as a producer of Shotgun Stories, one of my favourite films at MIFF this year. This film is a real gem and deserves a theatrical release. Hopefully Hopscotch, Madman or one of the other local distributors will pick it up. It should do well at the Palace, Nova or Kino cinemas.