Snow Angels David Gordon Green

Snow Angels David Gordon Green
Before he gives us Pineapple Express and inevitably transforms into the A-list Hollywood director we’ve always known he’d become, David Gordon Green delivers his fourth film. Green’s first two efforts — George Washington and All the Real Girls — established the director as a voyeur of everyday life in the Southern sphere of America, mixing trivial activity with offbeat personalities and breathtaking photography.

Shot in Halifax, Snow Angels captures less of that sensibility and continues more along the fringe of his last film, the overexcited thriller Undertow, which despite floundering, upheld its momentum until the very last frame. Once again, he focuses his sights on small town America during an undetermined period, where his characters all seem to be misguided.

Beginning with an amusing high school band rehearsal that ends in gunshots, Green takes us back in time, introducing a group of connected individuals whose lives will directly affect the tragic conclusion. Sam Rockwell is most effective as Glenn, a mentally unstable burnout clinging to Christianity after a botched suicide attempt. His estranged wife Annie (Kate Beckinsale) wants nothing to do with him, though she keeps him in the picture for their daughter’s sake.

It’s a tough relationship to watch, bordering on cringe-worthy during the hard-hitting climaxes. However, the more fascinating couple features two high schoolers (Michael Angarano and Olivia Thirlby), who allow Green to satisfy the romantic side we fell for in All the Real Girls. The lives are all intertwined but not in the hackneyed convolutions we’ve been force-fed since Magnolia — everything’s laid out with slack, allowing a heavy dramatic plot and characters to develop without any formulaic dependency.

Despite intricacies that hint Green is eyeing more mainstream fare, it’s important to point out he is adapting a script for the first time — Stewart O’Nan’s novel — and what he conveys with his powerful ensemble is yet another affecting depiction of devastation with a heightened sense of realism. (Warner Independent)