Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Overlooked DVD of the month - SNOW CAKE

SNOW CAKE is a fascinating low-budget film directed by Marc Evans (MY LITTLE EYE) and written by first-time screen-writer Angela Pell. It stars Alan Rickman as an uptight English middle-aged man travelling by car through Canada. He is approached by a kookie young girl called Vivienne in a road-side cafe and reluctantly offers the emotionally-open, talkative young girl a lift. As a result, his journey takes a detour to Vivienne's home town, where Rickman's character strikes up an unlikely friendship and respect for Vivienne's high-functioning autistic mother, played by Sigourney Weaver.

This is, more or less, the extent of the plot of the film. It's success relies in making us - the viewer sceptical of the meet-cute in the opening scene and the too-familiar odd-couple story-line - form an affection and respect for the central characters. Alan Rickman's character invites our sympathy as the vulnerability underneath the stand-offishness is revealed. And Sigourney Weaver's character has a remarkable inner strength and a charming ability to be direct and bang-on. Their scenes together are surprisingly funny: despite the subject matter, this is not a dour film.

I was initially put-off by Sigourney Weaver's performance - which seemed exaggerated to the point of parody - but before long I was swept up in the developing friendship. I'm not sure whether the performance toned down as the film developed or whether I, like Rickman's character, just overcame my prejudice and became accustomed to it. It's certainly one to ponder. At any rate, this is an interesting and unusual movie that goes beyond typical Hollywood stereotypes and, bar the last scene, avoids any sentimentality or patronising its central characters. Definitely work a look.

SNOW CAKE played Berlin and Edinburgh 2006 was originally released in the UK in September 2006. It is available on Region 2 DVD. It opens in Belgium on March 14th and in the USS on April 25th.

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