“FIRST SNOW”— Facing the End Of Life

“FIRST SNOW”

Facing the End Of Life

Amos Lassen

Jimmy Starks (Guy Pearce) is a man whose life spins out of control after a psychic tells him his days are numbered. After his car breaks down in a desolate town visits a fortune teller, Vacaro (J.K.Simmons), to kill some time. The psychic’s reading sends Jimmy’s life into a tailspin when he learns that his life will soon end, but he is safe at least, until the first snow of the season. Now, with his end coming nearer, Starks becomes obsessed with revisiting his past in hopes of changing his destiny before it’s too late.

We see the sleaziness morally bankrupt salesman Starks when he tries to close deals on his cell phone while calling people “sweetheart”. His girlfriend Dierdre, (Piper Perabo), complains that he’s constantly on the line.  Hespeculates about how he’ll die— whether he will be killed by a disgruntled protégé, or the ex-con business partner he left rotting in a jail cell or if a mysterious heart ailment will kill him.

“First Snow” brigs together mysticism, suspense, and drama but this isn’t an easy film to get into; director Mark Fergus is preoccupied with dreary New Mexico locations blocking an easy access into the plot. Pearce well understands the tone Fergus is trying obtain and gives his performance the dramatic shadings the screenplay doesn’t always offer.

Watching Jimmy confronted with death, fate makes for a ticking clock and the characters gain confidence when they approach the end of the film. However, when Jimmy starts to get lost in the pessimism of his mind, things fall apart. This a film of great promise but it loses dramatic circulation. Yet as a psychological thriller, it works. Pearce gives a great performance as a tightly wound Type A personality who unravels trying to forestall his foretold death. Dealing with nothing less than our awareness of mortality, the film is a genre riff with something to say. Every scene of the vivid drama pulses with the question of how we choose to live and if we treat that knowledge as a gift or a curse.

The contemporary Southwest is the perfect setting for a story in which nostalgia is the source of both hope and doom. When he sees the validation of the fortuneteller’s abilities, Starks can’t rest until he knows the details and insists that Vacaro gives him a second reading and learns that his time will run out with the first snow.

Stark’s restless search for the cause of his impending demise begins here. His world becomes charged with omen. A medical checkup detects a possible heart problem. He senses ill intent from Andy (Rick Gonzalez), recently fired from his job. When persistent phone calls to his home, he hears something threatening. But it’s when he learns that an old friend has been released from prison that Starks believes he has found the source of what is happening. Heindirectly initiates contact with the troubled man and sets off a series of cataclysmic events. Along the way, he confides in his skeptical co-worker and pal Ed (William Fichtner).

Jimmy’s psychological disintegration goes through the five stages of dying – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – and Pearce moves through these with seamless intensity.

SPECIAL FEATURES: 

  High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature

  Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

  English Subtitles

  Final Omen featurette (SD, 03:32)

  Behind The Scenes featurette (SD, 07:12)

  Interview with Actors Guy Pearce & Piper Perabo (SD, 6:54)

  Interview with Actor J.K. Simmons (SD, 1:20)

  Original Theatrical Trailer

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