SNOW CAKE
© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
Just as the 2007 edition of the Tribeca Film
Festival is getting underway, a flood of movies
that were featured at the
2006 edition are
hitting theaters, including
SNOW CAKE, a quirky
comedy-drama about an odd couple.

Alex Hughes (Alan Rickman) is a haunted man;
we learn fairly early on in the film that he has
just been released from prison but we don't
know why, although it probably had something
to do with the young man in the photograph he
is shown turning over in his hands in the
opening scene.

Linda Freeman (Sigourney Weaver) is a
functioning autistic woman, holding down a
part-time job and sharing her home in Wawa in
rural Canada with her teenage daughter
Vivienne (Emily Hampshire in a vibrant
performance).

Vivienne unwittingly brings these two strangers
together after a tragic accident and the crux of
the film revolves around Alex's learning to
forgive himself and take a more relaxed view on
life. He's partly assisted in this by Linda's
next-door neighbor Maggie (Carrie-Anne Moss),
a big city transplant who is also a misfit in this
small town.

The screenplay is by Angela Pell and the
direction is by Marc Evans. The actors bring an
assortment of tricks and variations to their
roles. Moss projects a kind of warm and wise
sensuality and she continues to impress as an
actress who can take a seemingly nothing part
and invest it with depth and range. Rickman
plays mopey well and he shares a nice chemistry
with both Moss and Weaver, with each woman
bringing out different facets of the character's
personality. James Allodi as a suspicious local
cop who has a thing for Moss' character is fine,
but that subplot feels tacked on or half-formed.

And then there's Weaver. This actress made her
career playing tough women (even spoofing her
image in her Oscar-nominated turn in
WORKING
GIRL
), so watching her portraying an autistic
woman -- however functional -- is a bit strange,
to say the least. I came away thinking that the
actress decided to meld together some
mannerisms and shtick and that was her
performance, although the press notes mention
that she studied autistic individuals in her
preparations for the part. My problem with her
work is that I could see the seams -- she was
simply trying too hard, and thus the
performance ultimately fails.

SNOW CAKE clearly is a well-intentioned film
and there are some worthy moments in it --
especially when Hampshire and Rickman interact
in the early scenes -- but in the end, it's as
viable as its titular confection: pretty to look at
but cold.

Rating:                C-
MPAA Rating:        None
Running time:      112 mins.


Viewed at Magno Review Two
L to R: Sigourney Weaver as Linda Freeman
and Alan Rickman as Alex Hughes in
SNOW CAKE

An IFC First Take/The Weinstein Company release
© 2006 The Independent Film Channel LLC. All rights reserved.