First Snow


First Snow Review

What is it about Guy Pearce that makes him so attractively insular, even when he's playing an obnoxious halfwit who sells bargain basement linoleum? Last year, he started strong with his brooding performance in John Hillcoat's brutal The Proposition and ended as the only graceful note as Andy Warhol in the otherwise abysmal Factory Girl. Though it premiered at last year's Tribeca Film Festival, it's taken close to a year for someone to pick up First Snow, along with both Lonely Hearts and Comedy of Power, which also premiered at Tribeca last year. With the 2007 edition of the festival a paltry month away, a look at one of its more well-attended and well-received pieces is apt.

Pearce plays Jimmy Starks, a walking grease bucket of a salesman who is waiting for his car to get fixed when we first meet him (as if the name left any room for ethical clarity). Jimmy is trying to sell everyone: He attempts to sell a jukebox to a bar owner (he already has one), tries to sell his intellectual cynicism to a fortune teller (J.K. Simmons, playing it surprisingly low key), and tries to sell his respect to his colleagues and coworkers (William Fichtner and Rick Gonzalez, respectively). When the fortune teller tells him that he will go tits-up when the first snow hits, Starks responds with impervious flaunting and jittery paranoia. Self-aware and gaunt with confusion and doubt, Starks begins to take action to ensure he won't die. Not an easy charge with a vexed ex-partner (Shea Whigham), sneering and prodding through late night phone calls.

And I'd thought the Memento aping had gone and simmered down for awhile. First-time director Mike Fergus, who along with co-writer Hawk Ostby helped pen the script for Alfonso Cuaron's brilliant Children of Men, has some nifty moral questions, but not much more than your standard psychologically-leaning noir. The question of whether or not Starks' duck-and-dodge tactics to escape his certain fate are all part of the equation for his death are well and good, but they don't expound on the story's bylaws or give the character any deeper resonance. For whatever reason, Starks' change from slick-Rick salesman to nervy, self-analytical loner can be seen the minute the fortune teller reveals what he's seen.

That isn't to say that these look-over-your-shoulder theatrics don't at least cast a consistent enough tone to keep the viewer intrigued. The film leans heavily on Pearce's uncanny ability to shift his tone and look without disrupting the mood of the scene and, in a larger sense, the film. It's not that Fergus doesn't have a semblance of technical proficiency; it's that he doesn't use it to engage the audience in any particular way, allowing the wannabe fate loopholes to fill in what is left largely uncovered in the screenplay. Fergus is blessed with a cast who can duck-and-weave with his shabby material. He might not be so lucky next time.

It's snowin', and I'm breathin'.

First Snow

Facts and Figures

Run time: 101 mins

In Theaters: Friday 23rd March 2007

Box Office USA: $0.1M

Distributed by: Yari Film Group

Production compaines: Furst Films

Reviews 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 58%
Fresh: 42 Rotten: 31

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Mike Fergus

Producer: , Robyn Meisinger, , Bryan Furst,

Starring: as Jimmy Starks, Steven Michael Quezada as Mechanic Enrique, J.K. Simmons as Vacaro, Nicholas Ballas as Tavern Owner Pete, as Deirdre, as Ed Jacomoi, David House as Bartender Sammy, Julie Gawkowski as Receptionist, Luce Rains as Roy Harrison, Forrest Fyre as Dr. Bates, Gurudarshan as Psychic Woman, Callie Anne Morgan as Psychic Woman's Daughter, Jo Ann Soto as Crying Woman, Adriana Cordova as Andy Lopez's Wife, as Tom Morelane, as Maggie, Roy Costley as Sergeant Van Meer, Portia Dawson as Tavern Waitress Marci, Cherilyn Hayres as Market Clerk, Brian Keith Gamble as Bank Manager, as Vincent McClure, John Burton Jr. as Closing Radio DJ, Anthony Jordan Atler as Son, Dave Colon as Bar Patron, as Radio Announcer (Voice), Clark Sanchez as Masonesque Murderer, Tavia Schwartz as Pool Table Player, as Andy Lopez