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First Snow

MVD Entertainment Group // R // June 30, 2020
List Price: $14.76 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ryan Keefer | posted September 11, 2020 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

I am not sure how a movie with a few recognizable actors in it (even an Oscar winner!) at once could fall off the map as far as the 2006 film First Snow goes. Also, the first is set in Albuquerque, where Breaking Bad was about to get initial production underway. Nobody thought to re-release this somehow and strike while the iron was hot? Oh well, more's the pity.

Anyway, Mark Fergus wrote the script (Children of Men) which he also directed, and stars Guy Pearce (Memento) as Jimmy, a salesman in New Mexico who is getting his car worked on. While at the shop he visits Vacaro (J.K. Simmons, Whiplash), a fortune teller who informs Jimmy that things are generally good, but come the first snow, that's when he can't see any more. This unknown spooks Jimmy, and he tries to find out more about it.

Along with Jimmy, his girlfriend Diedre (Piper Perabo, Coyote Ugly) and best friend/coworker Ed (William Fichtner, Black Hawk Down) try to help him figure out what his future may be. When he learns an old friend of his named Vincent (Shea Whigham, Joker) is getting out of jail soon and wants to see him, Jimmy starts to get skiddish.

The initial bulk of First Snow is intriguing in the sense of the actors' devotion to the story. And they set up the story and the character motivations pretty well. And at some point as the characters and story kind of zig and zag to a point where they meet into confluence that is inherent in the story, it strays less from a potentially interesting noir film and something that seems a little bit on the side of a well-produced ‘Tales from the Darkside' episode. The return of Vincent kind of has this eerie feeling like Michael Parks coming home, and when he does, and meets Jimmy, it's a little, shall we say wanting for closure.

I think I wonder once or twice a non-pandemic year why a film that has good actors in it can wash up on the shores of anonymity, then I realize that the film is less than the sum of its parts. Is it nice to see some of the faces in here? Sure, but I could have liked them more in stuff I know rather than the third act conundrum that First Snow leaves the viewer with.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

The 2.35:1 widescreen presentation of First Snow is better than I expected and perhaps better than it had a right to be, because of the image detail involved in things like woods and New Mexico interstates, looking remarkably sharp. Colors are reproduced loyally and flesh tones are accurate, and often times I wondered exactly when this movie was made, even after knowing when it was shot. It looks really really good.

The Audio:

Dolby Digital 5.1 surround which, well OK I guess. Ambient noise is present as are directional effects and channel panning; lots of cars going by and sounding clear. Dialogue is consistent and all, but the soundtrack does not have a lot to do (it does those things well to be fair), but is a letdown given the presentation.

Extras:

Not that many, but kudos to MVD for listing their time and whether they're in SD or HD. The behind-the-scenes featurette (7:12) is fairly typical, and the "Final Omen" one is smaller (3:32) but more focused. Simmons (1:20), Pearce and Perabo (6:54) discuss their thoughts on the film and the little things in it, and there's a trailer (2:00) and reversible cover which is surprising but hey.

Final Thoughts:

In First Snow, we get an interesting premise that finds itself undone by the same thing, despite interesting performances by the protagonist and antagonist (heck, by good performances by everyone above the title!). Technically the film is fine, even darned good by expectation, and the extras are average again, given expectation. Nevertheless, it may be interesting but ultimately the whole experience is a letdown.

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