David Gordon Green’s Snow Angels
Snow Angels is hopeless. It offers up ahundred odd minutes of shattered lives and ruined humanity; the film drifts pass being sentimental and melodramatic into a confused surrender. The two leads give-up from the start of the picture and then the film shuffles through half a dozen more players, ranging from competent to inspiring, before ending with our two heroes dead and all grain of legitimacy or worth sucked out of the story. Green’s earlier films painted a bittersweet (George Washington, All the Real Girls) to tough (Undertow) portrait of American life; probably the best examples this side of Rushmore, of the new style of drama centered around the broken family and the world that pivots around them. These other pictures, particularly George Washington, had at their best organic and well written characters. The best part probably being that rather than having everything dressed in stern stoicism like a starched suit, there was a charismatic hopefulness; a style in which the characters played their parts that was infectious and strange. The most serious of moments would be undercut by a quirk or laugh, something organic, something unexpected and not painstakingly realistic; a refreshing break from the status quo of actors acting ‘realistically’. To show that the human spirit can stand up no matter how hard the fall. Green also at times did the opposite; presenting a heart-wrenched monologue about something in the commonplace, a fresh perspective; and I can’t help to think that the best part of Snow Angels was the militant speech given to the high school band before the football game; about having a ‘sledgehammer in your heart’; “will you be my sledgehammer today?”. Absurd and makes you laugh, but that scene is quickly buried in 6 feet of hopelessness. Dark times call for dark films? Maybe, but what’s the point in building a film around a man whose given up, called all his chips in to god and liquor and guns? When you first meet our man Glenn (Sam rockwell) he is appealing, there is an infectious energy around him; but slowly it’s revealed that this is a mask put on, a last ditch attempt at happiness that is doomed from the start; in short he is selfish and pathetic. The thing that really disturbs me is that the source of the tragic events is written off by Glenn’s estranged wife Annie (Beckinsale) as being “deep down, we just weren’t happy”. I mean this isn’t satisfying. The loss of Glenn and Annie’s child is of course an event capable of destroying the strongest of us, but the film is not centered around this loss; the death is presented as part of a chain of events; the fact remains that her parents had given up beforehand. Green is more than capable of dealing with the subject material of a heavy drama; here he loses his spark by shoving the best characters and story lines to the periphery and focusing in on a car wreck. The ending tries to pass itself off as bittersweet, as the supporting cast seems in good spirits, but does that really qualify in any substantial way the murder-suicide that happened 5 mins ago? Anyways, dissapointing; and along with ‘tropic thunder’ it seems that Green is doing a crash course in ‘hip’ new hollywood film making; the ‘disfunctional family drama’ and the ‘stoner comedy’. Not to say there aren’t some merits to some of the dialogue, performances, and photography. Green brings some strong visuals; but even that pales in comparison to what he accomplished with the South in his earlier works. As you can probably tell i was looking forward to this one and was let down a little.