| First Snow is a sharp thriller with abstract pretentiousness. The writers were clever enough to approach a simple philosophical question in a devious and brusque way. It raises the question of whether our individual fates are sealed or whether they are alterable by changed behavior. Is knowing the future a blessing because it gives us an opportunity to make amends, or is it a curse that can not be changed? This directorial debut for Mark Fergus sifts through the questions by employing the unlikable character of Jimmy Starks (Guy Pearce), a resourceful, abrupt floor salesman whose desperate edge makes him a viable personality to answer the queries at hand.
Starks is a gauntly and greasy man who we immediately assume has finagled his way through his career. We are introduced to Andy (Rick Gonzalez), a protégé of Starks, who is fired for skimming money off the top, even though it was Starks that taught him how to embezzle extra earnings. The story unfolds before us when Starks’ car breaks down and he is stuck at an off-road repair shop. He notices a trailer offering $10 fortune teller readings and is charged by the ability to pass the time. He receives a reading from Vacaro (J.K. Simmons) who predicts the win of a basketball game and divulges information about a windfall that arrives by way of Dallas. This all seems unbelievable to Starks and he doubts the validity of Vacaro. After what appears to be a seizure, Vacaro asks Starks to take back the money he was paid.
When the unlikely basketball team wins and he gets word of a business opportunity from Dallas, Starks begins to believe Vacaro carries an unusual gift. He returns to the trailer and threatens Vacaro to tell him what vision created the seizure-like reaction. He responds by saying “I saw no more roads, no more tomorrows. But you are safe until the first snow”.
As Jimmy Starks, surrounded by paranoia and guilt, desperately chases the answers, you would expect the movie to take a turn towards horror, but it remains on the same track inside his tormented mind. I was intrigued by the storyline from the start. The mood and depth of the movie draw you in and keep you interested. In addition, the much anticipated snowfall keeps you wondering how much time he might have left to make amends.
In First Snow, Jimmy Starks becomes a victim of fate, and all his pompous securities are quickly replaced by fear and anxiety. This film has the potential to captivate the audience by posing the question, what would you do if you found out your days were numbered? At times the movie feels as though it is dragging and the settings do not keep you visually stimulated, but on a whole the script is well arranged. The end of the movie is sudden and not entirely expected which makes this an overall fresh, intelligent psychological thriller.
Review By: Maleah Moran