Guy Pearce (Memento, L.A. Confidential), Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly) and JK Simmons (Thank You For Smoking, Spiderman 1-3) star in this intriguing thriller about a man whose life spins out of control after psychic tells him... more » his days are numbered. After his car breaks down in a desolate town, a slick salesman, Jimmy Starks (Pearce), visits a fortune teller (Simmons) to kill some time. But the psychic?s ominous 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 ultimate fate looming nearer, Jimmy becomes obsessed with revisiting his past in hopes of changing his destiny before it?s too late.« less
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 04/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This taut little thriller, directed by first-timer Mark Fergus, is a real gripper with intelligence to spare and some seriously powerful stuff. The protagonist/anti-hero, Jimmy Starks (Guy Pearce in a role that hauntingly echoes his work in "Memento"), is a salesman/con man who easily slides in and out of legit selling and shady conning. Pearce carries this off beautifully, and is ably abetted in his downward spiraling tale by J.K. Simmons as Vaccaro, the strangely prescient soothsayer, William Fichtner as Jimmy's friend Ed, and some really great unknown actors in other supporting roles, principally the actor playing Jimmy's boss, who will hopefully go on to do more work on film (he's terrific).
Jimmy accidentally meets up with fortune teller Vaccaro who accurately predicts a win by a local college basketball team that Jimmy's bet on, as well as a windfall from an on-the-level business deal that Jimmy's involved in. What Vaccaro does not predict is the riveting, ever-darker series of events that ensue when Jimmy finds out that a former partner of his in a crooked scam, Vince, is now out on parole from a stretch in the slammer.
For my money, this is the best American noir thriller of the year so far, and would make a great addition, once it's out on DVD, to anyone's library of neo-noirs. The ending in particular is really strong--always the mark of a well-made film.
Try not to miss this. It's great.
"You Put Yourself on This Road...And The Gods Laugh Harder"
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 12/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The trouble with fortune telling is that you don't get the whole story. Even seers have limitations with the fortunes they dispense. This is the premise of another chilling suspense story starring Guy Pearce in a maverick role for which we've become accustomed since `Memento' Memento. Sharply written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostly (sp?) and keenly directed by Mark Fergus, 'First Snow' has to be one of the edgiest and most suspenseful thrillers of the year.
Jimmy Starks (Pearce) is stranded at a remote garage. His car needs servicing, and he's like many impatient businessmen on the go. He can't get repairs immediately, so he's stuck there for the evening. Moseying into the honky-tonk bar, he finds an opportunity to see a psychic in a nearby mobile home. Vacaro (J.R. Simmons, Peter Parker's boss) vends his futures according to the funds, but is quick to pick up on what Jimmy can afford. This piques both his interest and his skepticism. Soon he shares a stream of fortune: He'll be on the road before the next day. His pro basketball team, the Timberwolves, will win decisively, and he'll receive a windfall from Dallas. In the midst of their meeting, Vacaro's clasped hand shakes and trembles until he lets go. Vacaro is shaken and gives Jimmy all of his money back. Throughout Jimmy sees the experience as entertainment. All but the first proposition sounds preposterous, and the only thing that seems amiss is the refund...until fortune's hand plays out for him.
Leo, Jimmy's business partner, is a skeptic. His explanations square with most of ours: Jimmy has a Timberwolves' bumper sticker. It is the power of suggestion. If you go looking "under every rock," [fortune] is bound to show up where he tells you. When playing car games as a child, if you say, "Spot the Volkswagons," you find them all over the place. Jimmy must find out for himself, so he returns to the fortune teller for more answers. This time a somber seer tells him he hasn't long to live. He is safe until "the first snow".
There are many ways to accept this news. One is to take advantage of life like a terminal patient. Another is to fight for life. Jimmy chooses the latter. Ominously, we see near misses and a foreboding message in the mail. He first rashly blames a Mexican associate (Rick Gonzales). Then he finds out about an old friend and business partner, Vincent, is out of prison on parole. He seeks his mother to find out more. He rashly goes to his mobile home and only draws more attention to himself. Calling the police, missing work, investigating his wayward friend, and trying to drive until he misses the "first snow," he stops to take stock of matters. Then, he must decide whether to keep running or to face his future.
Much like an updated `Twilight Zone' adventure, `First Snow' plays upon our curiosity with tight and tense scenes that quickly get and keep our interest. After seeing this movie a comparison to `Premonition' Premonition (Full Screen) proves that execution and editing can be crucial to a film's success. Gripping like `Wind Chill' Wind Chill just before it, `First Snow' offers one bracing and suspenseful chiller."
Guy Pearce Does a Great Job Here
N. Hackman | Vancouver Island | 12/07/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film starts off with much promise. Guy Pearce is a really interesting actor, as is William Fichtner. Their nuanced performances are the reason for my 4 stars. Somewhere around three quarters of the way through things get a bit formulaic. Also, the women characters in this don't really hold up their end of things. That might partly be a failing of the Director and/or the script. I appreciated the New Mexican locale and the philosophical underpinnings, although this would've been better if the trajectory of the storyline had been allowed to meander into unexpected areas and the dark tone given a respite. Overall this film achieves a lot on a low budget."
Don't always trust fortune tellers
Bradley F. Smith | Miami Beach, FL | 12/05/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This guy gets his fortune told and spends the rest of the movie in a series of red herrings until it finally ends. A cast of mostly unknowns, though Perabo has a reputation. There's not much point to the whole thing. It's not very thrilling, either."
Too much of a concept film -- builds tension for the ride, b
Nathan Andersen | Florida | 08/31/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The idea of this film can be summed up in a sentence: we think we are free, but the parameters of our existence are not really up to us. This is more or less stated in the opening monologue. Most decent films have a theme, usually as simple and as well worn as this one -- but in the case of this film it felt too much like the story was in the service of the theme, rather than the theme being integral to the story. That's what I mean by a "concept film" -- one that is designed around and in order to illustrate a fairly straightforward idea.
First, you have to pick a character who denies the theme -- in this case a guy who thinks life is what he decides to make of it, who thinks his destiny is up to the measure of his own ambition. Of course, he's a salesman. That's perfect, because it means he's on the road a lot -- and being on the road is a nice and easy metaphor for the path of life Then, you've got to set up a scenario that challenges his denial of the theme. In this case, it's a bit contrived: a fortune teller who predicts his demise. You've got to give him reasons to live: a girlfriend who he's not quite committed to (because, of course, he doesn't like to have his future set in stone). Finally, you've got to set up a back story that will provide the causal mechanism whereby his fate meets up with him: an old friend he betrayed, now out of prison.
Where the film starts to generate interest is in the idea that while our ultimate destiny is out of our hands -- the ultimate parameters of our existence, the fact we will die, that we have needs, etc. -- we can choose how we will meet this inevitable end. This dimension, however, is not developed very far -- our main guy just makes a shift from denial to acceptance.
The film looks good, the acting is fine throughout, the dialogue (apart from what seems to me an unnecessary reliance on the supernatural abilities of a fortune teller) is plausible. Guy Pearce works for the role -- though he seems to be slumming a bit here, playing it something like a slightly less intense version of Leonard in Memento. That he does have a much wider range than what we already saw in his breakthrough role is evident from another very different but equally superb performance in The Proposition.
I found the film intriguing, and thought it did a good job building and maintaining tension, but it left me unsatisfied in the end -- asking: is that all there is? What the film needed was a clever and satisfying twist that brought home the theme, while deepening and transforming it. What it delivered was a pretty lame twist that did nothing to add to what was already expected."