First Snow
No, I don’t feel lucky.

Golden Mug

Supporting Actor (Shea Whigham)
Cinematography (Eric Edwards)

Theatrical Release Date: 03/23/2007
Director: Mark Fergus
Cast: Guy Pearce, J.K. Simmons, Piper Perabo, William Fichtner, Shea Whigham, Rick Gonzalez

I’ve always been tempted to have my fortune told. I don’t hold any stock in the “gifts” fortunetellers claim to have but I thought it would be hilarious to see if they said some bullshit about my life and I could say “Nice try with those generalizations but you’re an idiot and a charlatan, my life is nothing like you just said.”

However, if someone were to hit the nail on the head, I think that might freak me out a little and I’m not sure I really want to know my future.

In “First Snow”, Guy Pearce plays a salesman who by coincidence (or fate), happens upon a fortuneteller who gives him the impression that life isn’t going to be a state he can call home for very long.

Leaving the particulars for you to find out, writer/director Mark Fergus did a wonderful job of peeling the layers of the film back in such a way as to build suspense throughout, not just in particular scenes.

The feeling that something is going to happen, that palpable tense air, gets rolling in the first ten minutes and doesn’t really let go.

That’s helped by the excellent acting performances, most notably Pearce and Simmons.

Guy Pearce seems to always deliver, no matter the genre of film. From “L.A. Confidential” to “Memento” to even “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert”, he has such a powerful presence on screen that the audience almost can’t help but be sucked in.

Most people might recognize Simmons from his role of a psychologist on “Law & Order” or as J. Jonah Jameson in the “Spider-Man” films but don’t let his over-the-top performance in the latter fool you. He plays this character just right, shrouding his wisdom and kindness with a shadowy veneer.

However, while those two actors hit their mark, there were others that felt a little out of place. I liked Fichtner in the film, and his presence brings some amusing levity, but he was the only character to bring that to the table. I think the tone of the film could have been even more gloomy and menacing without that little bit of light.

Perabo and Gonzalez, at times made it look like they were rehearsing the scene, rather than performing a finished product. I’ve never accused either of them of being worthy of many accolades but I like both actors and the energy they normally bring to a project.

Here, it just felt like they didn’t quite mesh with the other characters. I think it was just a case of miscasting, trying too hard to match their particular talents to characters that don’t suit them.

The casting department did get it right though by casting Shea Whigham. While his performance doesn’t take up much screen time, he makes up for that in spades. His character truly had me wondering what he would do next and had me forgetting he was just an actor in a scene.

Between this and his turn in “All The Real Girls”, I am quickly beginning to move him up on my personal acting ladder and look forward to seeing his role in the independent film “Wristcutters: A Love Story” which got a lot of rave reviews at Sundance last year and hopefully will be released to DVD sooner than later..

Back to “First Snow”, the film had a wonderful look to it, using the New Mexico setting as its backdrop. Having driven through that state more times that I’d like to count, I enjoyed recognizing that they shot a lot of driving scenes at one particular Interstate junction in Albuquerque.

Still, putting all of the elements together, I was left feeling like the film needed another push to get it over the hill and that the climax was a little too anticlimactic and predictable.

But if you like this sort of suspense/thriller genre, I think “First Snow” is worth a watch. I’m going to give it the passing grade of a 3 out of 5. A good film, just not all that innovative or necessary.