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Snow Angels

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for language, some violent content, brief sexuality and drug use

Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
1 hr. 46 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
March 7, 2008
Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures

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Featuring: Deborah Allen, Michael Angarano, Jeanetta Arnette, Kate Beckinsale, Peter Blais, Brian Downey, Chase Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Carroll Godsman, Brian Heighton, Gracie Hudson, Martha Irving, Nicky Katt, Lita Llewellyn, Slavko Negulic, Tom Noonan, Leah Ostry, Connor Paolo, David Pezzaniti, Sam Rockwell, Amy Sedaris, Olivia Thirlby, Hugh Thompson, Angela Vermeir
Director: David Gordon Green
Producer: Dan Lindau, R. Paul Miller, Lisa Muskat, Cami Taylor, Derrick Tseng
Distributor: Warner Independent Pictures

“Some will fall. Some will fly.”

For those whose tastes in movies require that a film have an uplifting ending that has you whistling and tapping your toes as you leave the theater, ‘Snow Angels’ is not your movie. Directed by David Gordon Green and based on the novel by Stewart O’ Nan, ‘Snow Angels’ is a love story that takes a look at love in all its stages. The love of a young couple discovering the splendor of ‘first love,’ to love of a bitter couple trying to remember why they loved each other—while going through divorce.

The young, teen couple is Arthur (Michael Anjarano) and Lila (Olivia Thirlby, ‘Juno’) who we meet while Lila watches Arthur practicing for the high school marching band. Suddenly, two gunshots ring out in the distance, and the film flashes back to the moment leading up to what triggered these shots.

The second couple is Arthur’s parents who are in the process of divorcing. The third couple, the main focus of the film, are Annie (Kate Beckinsale) and Glenn (Sam Rockwell). Glenn is trying to reconcile with his wife after an event from his past broke up their relationship. The event also led to Annie not being able to trust Glenn with their daughter.

The film juxtaposes these three relationships through Arthur who Annie babysat while younger. Though she is older, it is easy to see he still has a crush on her. Arthur is involved with Lila, which proves to be a necessary distraction from the divorce his parents are going through.

The film explores the dynamics of these three relationships and how particular issues such as infidelity, trust and forgiveness figure in the balance of a long-term commitment. The pacing of the film is remarkable and the plot builds like the tension of a roller coaster saving all the momentum (as well as most of its offensive material) until the end. The three couples all deal with the ups and downs of their respective relationships until an event in the middle of the film sends them all spiraling in its wake.

As mentioned, most of the material that would be considered offensive by most viewers does not occur until the last act of the film. The film contains a few choice profanities in the beginning, relatively moderate. Towards the end, as tension builds, so does the profanity, which, given the circumstances, is almost understandable and in context of the situation. As far as sex and nudity, the only couple that is expressing any sort of intimacy towards one another is Arthur and Lila, however Arthur is obviously very shy and timid, even when it comes to kissing her. There is a scene where they culminate their relationship, and though nothing is seen, when it does occur the scene is very suggestive (those who felt the ‘sex scene’ in ‘Juno’ was graphic will find this scene even more suggestive). Violence? Without giving too much away, there are a few scenes of a graphically violent nature that will shock and possibly offend viewers.

Spirituality plays a significant role in the movie. Glenn is a born-again believer who is trying to pick up the pieces of his life in order to reconcile the relationship with Annie and his daughter. He often quotes or paraphrases scripture, and at times has spiritual discussions with his boss who hired Glenn because he, too, is a believer and felt it was the ‘Christ-like’ thing to do. At times, Glenn’s spirituality seems false, and viewers may suspect he is using it as a mechanism to manipulate Annie into trusting him. There is no doubt that many Christian viewers will be offended by some of the choices Glenn ultimately makes while quoting scripture.

Even with the ending, that many will term as ‘bleak,’ the film does have a redemptive quality to it and offers some insights into love, both beautiful and tainted.

The performances, particularly by Beckinsale and Rockwell, are stellar, and the story is very compelling, as it slowly eases the viewer along from the first gunshot to its chilling conclusion. Some might leave the theater feeling like they’ve been punched in the gut, rather than softly kissed on the cheek, but, unlike most Hollywood films, ‘Snow Angels’ will definitely leave an impression long after you leave the theater.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

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