EmptyPARK CITY -- A hard-scrabble Northern community is darkly scoped in filmmaker David Gordon Green's flinty depiction of three interrelated relationships. Ironically-titled "Snow Angels" is no happy depiction of the joys of winter or life, but rather a naturalistic and decidedly harsh glimpse into tangled, everyday lives. An appreciative, if muted audience, reacted positively to this naturalistic tale here at Sundance.
The three relationships distilled and cross-connected in "Snow Angels" might be separately labeled: beginning, middle and end. The beginning relationship centers on an observant high-school trombonist (Michael Angarano) who begins his first "serious" romance with a new-girl (Oliver Thirlby) photographer in school; the second perambulates on the trombonist's own parents who are navigating a separation, while the third courses through a marriage that has ended but is still savagely explosive.
Told contextually as filmmaker David Gordon Green interweaves the three "romances," "Snow Angels' is unsparing in its depiction of the pain of relationships. While often hard to watch because of its unflinching portrayal of the ugliness that love can take, "Snow Angels" succeeds because of the depth of its well-drawn characters. With no cinematic sugarcoating, it's an organic story that draws us in to these people's lives, as flawed and destructive as they may be.
The portrayals are across-the-board well-realized. In particular, Sam Rockwell is powerful as the addictive, grandiose ex-husband who malevolently clings to his once happy family. As his pressurized ex-wife, Kate Beckinsale is sympathetic as a working woman who bravely tries to endure. On the lighter/younger side, Michael Angarano is appealingly awkward as the love-smitten high-school student. Also, Griffin Dunne is convincing as his self-centered, philandering father, while Amy Sedaris is nicely spunky as a rag-tag waitress.
The technical contributions smartly congeal; specifically, the multi-parted storylines are brilliantly connected by William Anderson's lucid editing.
Crossroads Films and True Love Productions Present
A Crossroads Films Production
Producers: Dan Lindau, Paul Miller, Lisa Muskat, Cami Taylor; Screenwriter/director: David Gordon Green; Based on the novel by Stewart O'Nan; Executive producer: Jeanne Donovan-Fisher; Director of photography: Tim Orr; Production designer: Richard Wright: Music: David Wingo, Jeff McIlwain: Casting: Billy Hopkins, Suzanne Crowley, Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee. Cast: Annie Marchand: Kate Beckinsale; Glenn Marchand: Sam Rockwell; Arthur Parkinson: Michael Angarano; Don Parkinson: Griffin Dunne; Nate Petite: Nicky Katt; Mr. Chervenick: Tom Noonan; Warren Hardesky: Connor Paolo; Barb Petite: Amy Sedaris; Lila Raybern: Olivia Thirby
No MPAA Rating, Running time -- 106 minutes