All AMC Shows
Movies on AMC
First Snow (2007)
First Snow is a 2006 thriller starring Guy Pearce and directed by Mark Fergus. The film was released on March 23, 2007. Jimmy Starks (Pearce) is a smooth-talking salesman certain he’s on the verge of a big break, but when his car stalls in the middle of nowhere, a soothsayer named Vacaro (J.K. Simmons) turns his world upside down. Slick salesman Jimmy Starks (Guy Pearce) has auto problems in a small New Mexico town and while his car is in the shop he visits low-rent fortune teller Vacaro (J.K. Simmons) to pass the time. The supposed seer tells him he will have good fortune soon, but looking deeper relates the information that his future is blank, and he is safe only until the first snow of winter beyond which there is no future to foretell. The act upsets Jimmy and rekindles old transgressions and makes him feel he is on a collision course with destiny especially when an old friend Vincent (Shea Whigham) returns from a jail sentence that he went to in Jimmy's place after a bad business deal. Jimmy becomes obsessed with knowing more of his future and re-visits Vacaro but the old man can only tell the salesman that he has related to him all he can see.
Pearce plays Jimmy Starks, a walking grease bucket of a salesman who is waiting for his car to get fixed when we first meet him (as if the name left any room for ethical clarity). Jimmy is trying to sell everyone: He attempts to sell a jukebox to a bar owner (he already has one), tries to sell his intellectual cynicism to a fortune teller (J.K. Simmons, playing it surprisingly low key), and tries to sell his respect to his colleagues and coworkers (William Fichtner and Rick Gonzalez, respectively). When the fortune teller tells him that he will go tits-up when the first snow hits, Starks responds with impervious flaunting and jittery paranoia. Self-aware and gaunt with confusion and doubt, Starks begins to take action to ensure he won't die. Not an easy charge with a vexed ex-partner (Shea Whigham), sneering and prodding through late night phone calls.
And I'd thought the Memento aping had gone and simmered down for awhile. First-time director Mike Fergus, who along with co-writer Hawk Ostby helped pen the script for Alfonso Cuaron's brilliant Children of Men, has some nifty moral questions, but not much more than your standard psychologically-leaning noir. The question of whether or not Starks' duck-and-dodge tactics to escape his certain fate are all part of the equation for his death are well and good, but they don't expound on the story's bylaws or give the character any deeper resonance. For whatever reason, Starks' change from slick-Rick salesman to nervy, self-analytical loner can be seen the minute the fortune teller reveals what he's seen.
That isn't to say that these look-over-your-shoulder theatrics don't at least cast a consistent enough tone to keep the viewer intrigued. The film leans heavily on Pearce's uncanny ability to shift his tone and look without disrupting the mood of the scene and, in a larger sense, the film. It's not that Fergus doesn't have a semblance of technical proficiency; it's that he doesn't use it to engage the audience in any particular way, allowing the wannabe fate loopholes to fill in what is left largely uncovered in the screenplay. Fergus is blessed with a cast who can duck-and-weave with his shabby material. He might not be so lucky next time.
It's snowin', and I'm breathin'.