Although released in a very small number of theaters, Snow Angels managed to rake in nearly half a million dollars—not bad for a film that saw fewer than fifty screens. The film also received quite a bit of critical appraise, especially from Richard Roeper who calls it a “Great Film!” and his co-host on At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper, Michael Philips, crowned it as “Best of the Year…So Far” in a July 2008 segment. So despite a rather low spotlight, the film certainly has its fans and will undoubtedly find a few more when it arrives on DVD.
When Arthur (Michael Angarano) begins to fall for Lila (Olivia Thirlby), it seems that, while he’s starting his first romantic relationship, those around him have theirs falling apart. First his father moves out and the woman he’s known since he was a child, Annie (Kate Beckinsale), has relationship issues of her own. Despite all of this, Arthur’s world didn’t seem to be so bad until the death of a little girl sent his life and those around him into a deep spiral that had them looking at their own lives and what they could do to be a better person.
That summary was one of the hardest I’ve written, as, despite the summary on the back of the case saying pretty much the same thing, the film really has very little to do with Arthur. Although they would have you believe that’s the plot, the real focus of the film is on Kate Beckinsale’s character (surprise! It’s her face on the cover anyway). This is kind of a glaring oversight, as the character of Arthur comprises less than half of the film and, quite honestly, has very little impact on anything that goes on during the course of the film. Although all of the characters in the films are connected by association, few, if any, have any emotional impact upon one another.
Plot aside, the film itself is really quite a strange way to spend an hour and forty-seven minutes in front of the screen. It takes almost an hour for the fateful event of the film to actually happen and after that it spirals out rather fast. The first hour of the film is presumably spent getting to know the characters, but it is quite honestly just…well, boring. I’ve seen my fair share of character pieces before, where the film is nothing but focusing on the characters, but Snow Angels just doesn’t make a connection with the audience when its characters are up on screen. Everyone seems overly depressed to begin with and by the time any glint of happiness is pushed into the film, it all just immediately falls to the ground again.
I can understand the appeal of a depressing or moving film, but there just isn’t anything in Snow Angels that really makes you feel like the time you’ve spent with this film is worthwhile. It’s a fair study of the relationships individuals have, but when the deepest connection between the two main characters, Beckinsale and Angarano, is that one used to babysit the other, it’s hard to really get into the spirit of the film.
I didn’t know what to expect going into the film and nor did I really form any expectations during it; I enjoy Beckinsale’s work and the rest of the cast performed admirably and the film wasn’t weak from an acting standpoint…or even writing, for that matter. It was just a very simple story that was just really too plain and boring to really care about. It left you feeling like crap from the child death, murder and suicide that occurs in the last act of the film and it just really wasn’t something you feel like recommending or sharing with others.
In the end it’s a very well done film for what it is, it just isn’t something I’ll ever want to watch again and I don’t recommend unless you like to cry and/or become (yes I’m going to use the word again) depressed. I just felt incredibly bored with the story and found nothing of value to take from it, other than that life can sometimes be real crap. This is a Rental just for the performances.
Coming courtesy of Warner Home Video, Snow Angel arrives with a critically acclaimed jacket (in that it has three different quotes proclaiming it “great,” “magnificent,” and “captivating”) and…nothing else. Two versions of the film are included, widescreen and fullscreen, so that means no disc art. There are a few trailers and nothing else. Menus are static and about as basic as one could get.
The video transfer is decent, although there’s a level of grain that is over the entire film. The depression level the film casts over you may also have to do with the snow that blankets the streets during the entire duration of the film. In all it’s a decent transfer that doesn’t hinder your enjoyment of the film in anyway. The accompanying Dolby Surround 5.1 mix delivers the dialogue full and clear, although it’s mostly focused in the front channels—as to be expected. This is hardly the film that’s going to surprise you with a surround mix.
And…that’s it. No extras, no nothin’. There’s nothing here to check out aside from the film itself, which is a bit strange considering the critical praise this film received, one would think there’d at least be a director commentary. In any case, like the film, this release is a strict Rental only, since all you’ll be watching is the film.
Snow Angels arrives on DVD on September 16th.