Tuesday, January 15, 2008

First Snow

Mark Fergus and his screenwriting partner Hawk Ostby have already contributed a strong screenplay in last year's Children of Men. They have another in production for this year with the much anticipated Iron Man... but their first collaboration with Fergus in the directing chair was this tiny film called First Snow.

Guy Pearce is Jimmy Starks; a flooring salesman always looking for the next big thing. Pearce always happens to be a bad driver... he winds up waiting for his car to be fixed one day... he decides to have his fortune told by a roadside psychic (JK Simmons). Simmons tell him of a windfall of money that will be coming his way and a darker event that he will not go into that will come with the season's "first snow."

Starks is convinced that the psychic is telling the truth after a basketball game predicted comes true and so does the riches that were foretold. A shooting target is put in his mailbox... is someone out to get Starks? Is it possibly an old childhood friend who was burned in some scheme by the Feds? First Snow sets up possibilities and follows Starks down the path to his fate. Good supporting turns from Piper Perabo as Jimmy's girlfriend and William Fichtner as his business associate.

Pearce is always terrific and does a wonderful job picking offbeat parts. Every since he stepped on the screen in LA Confidential, Pearce has radiated a quiet superiority over the rest of the characters on screen. In First Snow, this lends an air of doom when the Starks character for once isn't in control.

Mark Fergus does a solid job in his first try as director. The shots are well done without being overly showy. Lingering moments combined with the music by Cliff Martinez (Wicker Park, Traffic) create a haunting trip into madness. I am very intrigued to see Fergus's sophomore effort behind the camera.

First Snow seems to have dissenters in regards to the ending. The final sequence is set up consistently throughout. When you think about it, how else could it end?


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