Thursday, March 20, 2008
REVIEW: SNOW ANGELS (****)
David Gordon Green has made four feature films, each of which have been excellent and rather perfect in their own ways. GEORGE WASHINGTON, his startling, award-winning debut, announced a new, major voice in independent cinema. His second outing, ALL THE REAL GIRLS, won a special jury prize at Sundance, and stands as one of the very best depictions of young love ever captured on film; it also displayed a Terrence Malick-esque fascination with incorporating nature into his narrative. His third film, the extremely underrated UNDERTOW, was a deep-South, gothic thriller that was essentially a riff on NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, and was nothing like his first two pictures; it’s a riveting, nasty piece of work. Now, with SNOW ANGELS, which represents his finest film so far, Green has crafted a devastating, draining, and often touching portrait of small town malaise in the dead of winter. Like its gloomy skies and snowy landscape, the emotionally conflicted characters caught in the middle of SNOW ANGELS represent life at its most random, natural, and tragic. Working from his first adaptation (the film is based on Stewart O’Nan’s novel), Green is able to capture the small, subtle moments that his work has always excelled at depicting. Yet he’s also able to get “big” for the first time, with bravura, Oscar-worthy performances from Sam Rockwell (someone give this guy the credit he deserves please) and Kate Beckinsale (who I never thought could make me cry). And by the time the powerful yet inevitable ending sweeps over the screen, you’ll be speechless from tension and expectation.