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SNOW ANGELS (director/writer: David Gordon Green; screenwriter: novel by Stewart O’Nan; cinematographer: Tim Orr; editor: William Anderson; music: David Wingo/Jeff McIlwain; cast: Kate Beckinsale (Annie Marchand), Sam Rockwell (Glenn Marchand), Michael Angarano (Arthur Parkinson), Jeanneta Arnette (Louise Parkinson), Griffin Dunne (Don Parkinson), Nicky Katt (Nate Petite), Tom Noonan (Mr. Chervenick), Connor Paolo (Warren Hardesky), Amy Sedaris (Barb Petite), Olivia Thirlby (Lila Raybern), Grace Hudson (Tara Marchand); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Dan Lindau/Paul Miller/Lisa Muskat/Cami Taylor; Warner Independent Pictures; 2007)
It starts out as a lyrically beautiful work, but goes amiss at the halfway mark and concludes with a misplaced harrowing finale.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director David Gordon Green(“Undertow“/”George Washington”/”All the Real Girls”) bases his downbeat stylish coming-of-age film, that tries to inject some comedy into its humorless subject, on the 1994 novel by Stewart O’Nan. It’s his first film in which he hasn’t written. The film was shot in Nova Scotia, but is set in a wintry unnamed small-town in Pennsylvania, in 1974. It starts out as a lyrically beautiful work, but goes amiss at the halfway mark and concludes with a misplaced harrowing finale. The film is told in flashback, after an opening sequence where a high school marching band practices outdoors on a snowy field and are jolted by the sound of gunshots in the nearby forest.

Annie Marchand (Kate Beckinsale) is a young waitress in a Chinese restaurant living with her mom while raising a three-year-old daughter (Grace Hudson). She’s separated from the born-again Christian loser Glenn Marchand (Sam Rockwell), the high school sweetheart she mistakenly married, who repeatedly harasses her to get together again by promising he will straightens out his life.Meanwhile Annie is sleeping with Nate (Nicky Katt), who is married to her friend Barb (Amy Sedaris).

Working part-time at the local Chinese restaurant with Annie is the shy high school trumpet player in the marching band, Arthur Parkinson (Michael Angarano), who finds living at home with his squabbling parents unbearable. Finally his wayward father, Don (Griffin Dunne), leaves. His distraught mother Louise (Jeanneta Arnette) tries to keep things intact after the split-up and adjusts to no longer being married.

At work Arthur flirts openly with Annie, who used to be his baby-sitter. At school, the nerdy Arthur attracts the love interest of his nerdy but pretty new classmate Lila Raybern (Olivia Thirlby).

The film heads to its tragic climax as it conveys the personal pain of the small town residents, the unstable people with guns, that the mixture of booze and religious extremism is a bad combo and that even in the beautiful country setting there are many unhappy people.It’s good on getting the details to the everyday lives of the locals, but bad on trying to connect their lives as to why the country is under such dark clouds.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”