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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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Film Review: ‘Angels’ examines love


Do not be fooled by the title. Snow Angels is every bit as heart wrenching and emotionally draining as, say, drowning puppies. To simply say this is a sad film just is not enough to convey the tragedy. Rather, it is profoundly sad – poignant and cathartic, even. There is no getting around the fact that you will cry like a little girl. And all the desolate snow doesn’t exactly help to warm things up.

Snow Angels is about relationships in their various stages, which doesn’t really sound all that exciting at first. Luckily, the characters take it up a notch and are extremely well developed. Book snobs may say the depths of their personalities don’t even compare, but nonetheless, they still make a graceful and compelling transition from the tear-soaked pages to the silver screen.

Most of the plot revolves around a couple that has been separated for quite some time. Glenn (Sam Rockwell) is a little unstable and would like nothing more than to put the pieces of his life back together. Annie (Kate Beckinsale) doesn’t feel the same way.

Their troubled times are set off, thank goodness, by the young and geeky high school pair who are so timid and awkward it takes them nearly the length of the film to get down to business. Arthur (Michael Angarano) is a band nerd whom Annie used to babysit. Lila (Olivia Thirlby) takes photographs for the yearbook and really works the role of the quintessentially dorky outcast.

In a story like this, comic relief is as necessary as air. Without it, the audience would surely suffocate from despair or find the entire situation beyond realistic. Here to save our souls from the otherwise inevitable post-traumatic stress is the always-funny Amy Sedaris as Barb, Annie’s friend. The key, though, to keeping it real is to not overdo it. Fans of Sedaris may have their doubts, but they should be assured that she is really the perfect fit here. She may steal a few scenes but she also proves that high drama is not outside of her capabilities. Her character serves to remind us all that laughter is a fabulous defense mechanism and 100 percent natural, so don’t feel guilty emitting the occasional chuckle. Let emotion take its course.

More than just another really sad story, Snow Angels is an experiment of production and exercises artistic prerogative. Director and screenwriter David Gordon Green deliberately revels in the slight confusion caused by the many anachronistic elements thrown in the mix. While the characters chat away on their cell phones, they drive around in cars older than much of the cast. Green has publicly stated that the purpose of this was to give the story a timeless feel and acknowledge the novel of the same name, which was written in 1974 by Stewart O’Nan.

After all, what else can claim to be as miserable, timeless and beautiful as love?


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