Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on February 26th, 2008
Guy Pierce fascinates me. He first broke on the scene in a big way in LA Confidential, which just happens to be one of my favorite films. Instead of taking the path of his co-star Russell Crow and chasing the big Hollywood dollar, however, Pierce chose to explore smaller, more interesting fringe films. Sometimes, this decision pays off for him, as was the case in the amazing Memento, or the recent The Proposition. Other times, however, the gamble falls flat, as was the case with The Hard Word. Pierce is consistently excellent, but the films he picks are hit and miss. That’s the problem with interesting projects, they either turn into surprise hits, or predictable failures. So the big question is, is First Snow a hit or a miss?
First let’s talk about the plot. Guy Pierce plays a salesman whose car breaks down in a remote part of the country, and while he is waiting for repairs, he visits a traveling fortune teller to pass the time. What starts out as a lark turns into a profound experience that alters the course of his life forever. The fortune teller informs him that his life will be over at the first snowfall of the season, and he slowly begins to believe him.
While the plot sounds tired and predictable, the film is crafted in such a way to actually be compelling. There are no blind sooth sayers here, no ominous music, no voodoo or spooky sound effects. The emphasis here is on subtlety and realism. This is not that same lame Hollywood look at what you might do if you had a short time left to live; this is the real deal. This is not a film that is going to make any big mainstream waves, but it is a perfect film to show to your friends late on a Saturday night. This is one of those great curiosities that could easily find its way into your thoughts for weeks to come.
For a little indie film, this disc looks excellent. I have seen big mainstream films that didn’t look anywhere near this good. Dark scenes are a little grainy and faded, but they are few and far between. The majority of this film looks spectacular. The film is incredibly sharp, and the colors are amazing; vibrant but not cartoony. Blacks are deep, and I didn’t see any problems with edge enhancement or artifacts. This is a first class transfer, and I was absolutely shocked to find it here.
The audio is considerably more subdued than the video, which doesn’t make it any less effective. The film has a beautiful and absolutely haunting score that perfectly complements the themes of the film. Dialog is strong and sound effects are taught, yet this is a film that is also not afraid to be quiet. This is not a big, loud summer thriller. This is a smart, art house film that is calm and calculated, and that goes for the audio as well.
Nothing. Zip. Squat. There is not even so much as an animated menu here. This being a virtually unknown film, even the standard electronic press kit probably could have added some new information. Too bad its not here.
I have seen so many bad movies in this job that I can usually spot them far in advance. This one had all the earmarks of a failure; a new film I have never heard of with bad artwork and a couple of borderline stars. The somewhat familiar script didn’t help much, either.
You can’t always judge a DVD by its cover, however. This is a surprisingly well made little film that really took me by surprise. It’s a shame that there aren’t any extras on the disc, but quality audio and video go a long way to making this film a no-brainer for a rental.