Like I Am Sam, it is easy to laugh at Marc Evans’s Snow Cake because sincerity appears to have had nothing to do with its creation. The script’s meticulous contrivances boggle the mind, suggesting something that was either honed at the Sundance Lab or rejected by the institute because of its gross desperation. In the film, Alex Hughes (Alan Rickman) flies to Winnipeg for reasons unknown, though it may have something to do with the picture of the young man he holds in his hand. Something of a subtextual edition of Choose Your Own Adventure, Snow Cake gives us the skeleton of its characters lives and asks us to entertain the meat of their psychological problems. Soon after Alex picks up a quirky hitchhiker, Vivienne (Emily Hampshire, channeling Almost Famous loony tunes Fairuza Balk and Zooey Deschanel), at a local diner, a truck slams into his van, instantly killing his riding companion. He goes to visit the girl’s mother in order to vent his guilt, though it would seem his feelings of remorse have something to do with his own son and the reason why he killed a man and went to jail. What begins as one bad Sundance movie suddenly and unnecessarily splits into two when Alex begins to nurture a relationship with two women: Vivienne’s mother Linda (Sigourney Weaver) and the neighbor, Maggie (Carrie-Anne Moss), who Linda calls a prostitute because of her proud sexual appetite. For optimum narrative expedience, the details of Alex’s hangdogitism and crimes against humanity remain a secret until the very end, and in a lame attempt to distract the audience from guessing his backstory, Weaver entertains us with a flabbergasting interpretation of autism spectrum, which includes using the word “dezlious” in an impossibly long sentence during some made-up comic-bookish edition of Scrabble. Possessed with an inexplicable fixation with snow (a metaphor for absolutely nothing, unless Vivienne’s mystery father was Jack Frost), Linda rolls around in the white stuff in her backyard while asking Alex if he’s ever had an orgasm. He says he has, at which point Linda recalls Vivienne’s description of sexual release and remarks, “It sounds like an inferior version of what I feel like when I have a mouthful of snow.” To its credit, Snow Cake does not discriminate: It embarrasses its actors and audience alike.
- IFC First Take
- 112 min
- Marc Evans
- Angela Pell
- Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Hampshire, James Allodi, David Fox, Jayne Eastwood
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