We were also fortunate to meet the writer, the director and the autistic woman who "coached" Sigourney Weaver. Absolutely fascinating. I can't wait for this to be released and will be buying the DVD for friends and family.
Snow Cake (2006)
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We were also fortunate to meet the writer, the director and the autistic woman who "coached" Sigourney Weaver. Absolutely fascinating. I can't wait for this to be released and will be buying the DVD for friends and family.
Sigourney Weaver is from a different world, one not unlike our own. She's not battling Aliens or living in a sectarian time-shift Village, but the world into which she brings us is as weird, and dazzling enough for my jaw to drop after watching her for just a few minutes. Her presence jumps off the screen with such vividness that, even though I had read the storyline, I knew it was going to surpass my expectations. Her character is fascinated by things that sparkle, can juggle numbers with unnerving rapidity, inhabits a universe of extreme precision that brooks no infraction, and no uncleanliness: and she's only barely tolerant of your world. This is the world of Linda Freeman, high-functioning autistic.
There are two sides to Linda: the world she lives in is undoubtedly extraordinary - her version of Scrabble leaves Alan Rickman's character (Alex Hughes) looking severely unevolved - but it is balanced by her lack of empathy for 'normal' people. What makes Weaver's performance so remarkable is that she conveys the logical certitude of Linda's position with such force that we, like Alex, start feeling a bit dumb. Why do we go through such irrelevant tea-and-ham-sandwiches rituals after a death? Why can't we feel the joy we felt as children when we discovered snow in our hands, or the thrill of a trampoline as our body is launched into space? Why do we struggle to remember simple facts? The drawbacks of Linda's world (apart from most people not being able to reach it) is that she cannot cope with the imperfections that the rest of us would shrug off. If the dog leaves a stain on her carpet she will have simply have to 'move house', and the only kind of job she can get is one where her obsessive need for order can find a simplistic outlet (she stacks shelves in a supermarket, with mathematical precision and attention). If Rain Man was the gold-medallist of autism, Linda Freeman is simply a non-glamorised regular sportswoman, and in that she conveys a more real person than any Hollywood-ised super-character.
Alex (Alan Rickman) opens the film, flicking poignantly at a small photo as he sits out a long flight. We have no clue as to who the person in the picture is, or why he seems to be encased in his own intense thoughts. Later, we see him in a transport café, approached by a bubbly young girl who is determined to break down his wall of silence. She wants to write a book and make loads of money - by finding the right areas of pain and suffering to focus on. Her apparent insensitivity is quickly tempered when she admits she admits she needs a lift but has picked the loneliest looking person because she really thinks he "needs to talk". Alex reluctantly gives her a lift. She is soon singing the 70's rock song All Right Now at the top of her voice, but things are far from all right. One car crash and an added truckload of emotional baggage later, Alex is arriving on Linda's doorstep and destined to be her guest for more than a few hours. Our storyline is further complicated by the seductively attractive Maggie (Carrie-Ann Moss) who has her eye on Alex. He first assumes she is a prostitute (she reminded me of the classy call-girl Inara, from Serenity) but accepts a 'neighbourly' invitation for dinner.
Rickman is at his best. The wry tongue-in-cheek humour seen in many of his films gives way to a sardonic realism that is even funnier because it is more true to real life. A very down to earth script ensures the laughs are grounded (Love Actually but without the unbelievability), even if in most cases Rickman is principally a foil for other characters: such as when Linda likens eating snow to an orgasm or Maggie breaks off dinner because she hates having sex on a full stomach.
We soon realise that Linda's childlike behaviour thinly disguises a penetrating intelligence, but her intelligence doesn't enable her to solve everyday problems such as putting the rubbish out. She has emotional insight, even consideration, but her world is as isolated from ours as ours is from hers, even with her ability to reel off facts and figures. One is reminded of a recent study that suggested that emotional intelligence may serve people better in the workplace than a Mensa certificate.
Rickman's character struggles with Canadian distances in a typically British manner. "It didn't look far on the map," he exclaims hopelessly. He is out of his depth geographically and emotionally but, obsessed with his own inadequacies, is open to seeing things differently. The landscape whiteness, at first cold and unwelcoming, starts to seem beautiful. Maggie allows Alex to open emotionally whereas Linda, through the intellectual effort he makes to reach her, enables him to rationalise the process and come to terms with his feelings. Linda is a doorway to seeing things differently - "I'm half outside, half inside," she says as she hovers on the porch and we puzzle whether she is being dippy or intentionally defusing a difficult situation. The mathematical way she describes needing a hug reassures us that she is human, but by then we have learnt a whole new attitude of respect. Snow Cake is a very personal film, not a blockbuster, but a few more films like this could enrich the way we see ourselves.
I wish I had proper words to describe what a masterpiece this is. And it was a masterpiece, perhaps, because it was NOT obviously 'arty' or 'important'. It was about people. Real people. Wounded people. Alan Rickman delivered what is perhaps the best role of his career. Sigourney Weaver's performance as the lady with autism was so seamless that if I didn't know better, I'd think she WAS autistic. And the young woman who played the daughter, Emily Hamspshire I think her name is--- she was a refreshing dose of realism. We should watch for her as a rising new star. And Carrie-Anne Moss was fantastic as the sex interest.
This movie is simple and straightforward. Yet, nothing was predictable, either. I just loved it. This is exactly the kind of movie treasure that movie lovers usually can only dream of finding. And to think, I only saw it 'accidentally', because I had already seen everything else at the cinema.
I am SO glad I went! The movie, I promise, is NOT about autism, or how we treat sufferers, or any other boring PC diatribe. It is about ME. And YOU. It's about all of us, and our hearts, and the inspiration and healing and good luck that we all yearn for, and we all deserve. Now, after this movie, the picture of what is possible is bigger, clearer, and stronger for me. Now THAT is a gift to me! Thank you, cast and makers of 'Snow Cake'!
But my worries were gone as the film flows, I smiled, I laugh, and even got tears in my eyes. I left the screening with a smile on my face and a warm and cosy feeling at heart. Even me friend loved it. This movie has depth yet makes you laugh and smile. And Now I am dying to watch it again.
Alan Rickman is wonderful as usual, his talent deserves an Oscar nod someday. Signourey Weaver is pretty good, though some of you said that her portrayal of autistic people is inaccurate, I am not sure. Carrie Anne Moss is cool but, well I guess it is hard for her to outshine Alan and Signourey . I love the script, the lines are funny and thought provoking at the same time. It makes you think AND laugh.
All in all impressive and beautiful.
anyone who reads this. please please please please go see snow cake if it is on near you as this amazing movie needs and deserves complete recognition form all of us fellow film viewers.
It was so good to see a film without ego, cgi or violence, just a gentle take on extreme circumstances. Please please please go see this film and even if it is just to find out what 'DAZLIOUS' means!
The Film is excellent - I wouldn't change a frame. It is beautifully directed and full of refined touches - great script - great score- and the acting by Rickman and Weaver is nuanced and outstanding.
The film conveys a very real portrait of small town (Wawa) Ontario - and nails the feeling of small town social politics, with its outward conformity vs begrudged acceptance of "strange behaviour". It also captures the stillness - the slowing of time - that one feels in a small town up north.
See this Film. You'll really love it
One of the three main protagonists is an outsider, Alex Hughes (Alan Rickman), who picks up a hitchhiker, teenager Vivienne Freeman (Emily Hampshire) on her way home to Wawa. Aspiring to be a writer, she approaches Alex with the belief that since he looks so lonely, he must have a good story of his life to tell. Tragically, Vivienne never gets home as their car gets into an accident which leaves Alex unscathed but kills her. The rest of the story happens in the ensuing week in Wawa, where Alex tries to help Vivienne's autistic mother Linda (Sigourney Weaver) arrange the funeral. Through interaction with Linda and other inhabitants of this town, Alex finds absolution from a guilt that has been weighting heavily on him. The number one key character of "Snowcake", however, is unquestionably Linda.
Rather than getting into all the details that should be left for the viewers to enjoy, I would just mention some of the interesting aspects of this movie. The biggest challenge is to make Linda believable. An average moviegoer is not expected to have much experience with an autistic person. The closest impression one gets is probably the "Rain man" version. If Dustin Hoffman was good enough with his performance to win an Oscar, Weaver certainly is also, for "Snowcake". At her first appearance, at her doorstep answering Alex's knock, Linda does not appear to have been grieved, acknowledging almost in a matter-of-fact manner that she heard about the death of her daughter two hours ago. It isn't until towards the end of the movie, after we have spent a considerable amount of time with Linda, that we begin to understand that perhaps she can retain in a corner of her mind a much more solid picture of her lost daughter than a normal person can. This becomes clear in the "dancing" scene at the post-funeral gathering at Linda's place. In a sense, she has not really lost Vivienne.
Linda doesn't "do socials", as she explains to Alex right at the beginning. At times she seems closed to everything around her but she is not entirely unreachable. At times (especially on important things) she is more sensible than "normal" people, such as in the way she deals with her daughter's death. At other times, she is irritating, or even exasperating, but endearingly so. Sounds absurd but just watch Weaver make this character believable it's a Sigourney Weaver you've never seen before.
Also never seen before is Carrie-Anne Moss, playing warm hearted neighbour Maggie with sensuousness in such a mellowed sort of way that will make you gasp. All of a sudden, you realise that watching too much "Alien" and "Matrix" has blurred your perception to what these two wonderful actresses are capable of. I am not too surprised that so many people go to see Snowcake just because of Rickman. They will of course be delighted to get a lot more than Rickman, but he alone is a good enough reason. Although not quite to the extent of Murray's minimalism in "Broken Flowers", Rickman plays a remorseful man with subdued hesitancy. It's when Alex interacts with Linda that they both come to life. In addition to those three, there is an excellent supporting cast, particularly Emily Hampshire.
One final word: somewhere in the middle of the movie, there is one moment when the audience of the show I attended broke out in spontaneous, thunderous applause. You should have no problem recognizing it Rickman was speaking and you'll probably get the same reaction in your show anyway.
I am not sure when "Snowcake" will be screened commercially or go to the film festival in your city. But when it does, don't miss it.
Snowcake is a must see for anyone who enjoys to watch a well written all-round good film! You will have a tear in your eye one moment and laughing the next! FANTASTIC!
NB: I hadn't eaten and had been drinking the night before and my woman was giving me static - so I was in a pretty low mood, so maybe that's the way to go when you watch this film, be at a low ebb yourself and it will sink in a little bit more and maybe tug the heart strings a little bit more.
Simple story, solid acting, lovable characters. there are moments to make u cry and laugh. The audience and the German Press generally receive it very well. Weaver's and Rickmann's acting deserves Oscar nominations. Rickmann should not just be remembered for Professor Snape in Harry Potter.... He is just very charming in this film. very convincing.
and I do love the snowcake at the end of the movie.... a simple cinematic surprise which works.
More films to be seen in Berlinale. let's see if Rickmann and Wwaver will go home with bears.... :)
The principal characters were as diverse as they were interesting and the audience immediately cared what happened to them - always a sign of a good film. Alan Rickman was just perfect as Alex - the role needed someone who could carry the weight of his past while dealing with this latest hand thrown to him by fate. I loved the way he came to care for Linda by the end of the film. I think that this is definitely one of Mr Rickman's best roles since AN AWFULLY BIG ADVENTURE
Sigourney Weaver was amazing - she played her part in such a way that her Autism bothered everyone else a lot more than it did her. (Is this a common feature of Autism - I am sorry to say that I have no idea). The fact that she is unable to outwardly show her grief for her daughter serves to underline how vulnerable she is and this, coupled with her childlike enjoyment of life, warms the heart of the audience.
The setting too is magnificent. Especially the setting sun scene at the lake.
I would urge anyone who likes something as different as it could be from the Hollywood blockbuster to go and see this classy film.
A great film, Alan Rickman does an amazing performance, and you actually believe Sigourney weaver is autistic, Carrie-Anne Moss is also good, and Emily Hampshire gives an extrodornary performance for such a small part, although it does set the tone for the film, In my opinion if the opportunity presents itself to see this film take it, it's absolutely stunning, and it makes you believe Marc Evans is the world's greatest director when really he's just starting out.
Today most films, especially dramas, are easy to have predictable endings and character origins, but this one really surprised me, from the beginning of the film you hear that Alex "killed someone" this made me believe he didn't kill them and possibly an autistic man he lost his patience with, when in all actuality he accidentally killed the man who killed the son he never knew. An amazing film with stellar performances from a stellar cast, you need to see it.
Its is easy to live your life and see what you want to see. We usually never try, we never want to go deeper into other people problems. We pretend that we are good persons, "I'll help him, poor guy". I hope this phrase is said in your life for no reason, because most times it is said to help yourself actually. We wanna be loved, we don't want to have any bad mood. "I help him, later he'll help me" thats the case and it's most popular. This film is very rich of positive thoughts, though most of you will not agree, but i can't think of more honest thoughts than of thinking about helping other and forget about money, power, your well-being. There were no of these things here. It made me think of what a scumbag i am. Running always on my path, and running away from who knows who. People change. I will be thinking about this for a long time. For those who haven't seen this film yet and saying "what a hell he's writing here" I advise don't bother to watch it. Better drink your cola and buy a ticket to "Fast and furious". For those who believes in what i say, thank you, your my friend and i hope there are more of such a kind.
Alex Hughes (Alan Rickman) is a man recently released from Prison after killing a man, and finds himself sitting next to a pretty young girl Vivienne Freeman (Emily Hampshire)at a truck stop Cafe, after much persuasion Vivienne manages to get Alex to give her a lift back home, Tragedy strikes en route as a lorry crashes into Alex's Car, Alex himself is luckily left without a scratch, Vivienne is sadly killed instantly. Alex feels immense guilt over the girl's death and goes to see her Mother Linda (Sigourney Weaver) to offer his condolences, at his arrival he notices that Linda is Mentally handicapped and suffers from severe Autism, and she manages to get Alex to stay with her to sort out the girl's funeral & put out the bins as she 'dosen't do garbage'
This does sound very depressing, but It's actually funny & sad in equal measure, Weaver gives a career best performance as the Autistic Mother and is greatly believable, Rickman is very understated but also gives a wonderful performance as the driver who seeks some sort of redemption - despite the car accident not being his fault.
Co-starring Carrie-anne Moss (The Matrix) as Maggie, Linda's oversexed neighbour who Alex begins a sexual relationship & Directed by Welshman Marc Evans, who includes songs by Welsh bands in the picture - this is a truly wonderful film that's well worth watching and nowhere near as depressing or PC as it sounds
**** out of *****
I love discovering films like "Snow Cake," and am thankful that talents like Weaver, Rickman, and Moss are willing to tackle them. I love enjoying the work of journeymen like cinematographer Steve "Durham County" Cosens who fruitfully labor outside the limelight of celebrity and deliver results that match or exceed those of their more famous counterparts. Most of all, I enjoy experiencing the fruition of efforts by talented unknowns like Ms. Pell.
This is not to say that "Snow Cake" has no faults, script- or otherwise. At times the fades/edits clearly indicate a narrative structure adaptable to commercial television presentation. The score by Broken Social Scene is often overtly manipulative, if not downright cloying. Some of the premises of the film seem a bit forced (cf. the Rickman/Moss romance). Nonetheless, "Snow Cake" has far more to recommend it than not. The three leads are at the top of their game (disregard any comments you see that claim Ms. Weaver is "acting" rather than "being"), the storyline is engagingly peppered with quality dialog that actually has something to say, and I'm hard pressed to recall a film in which the significance of the title is revealed so late in the plot and yet carries such resonance throughout.
There's nothing here for action fans to see; move along, please. "Snow Cake" is a lovingly realized character piece, well-crafted despite whatever weaknesses it may have, and easily worth the several hours spent with it by open-minded viewers. The DVD features include deleted scenes (most for obvious reasons) and trailer. Recommended to all who enjoy life-affirming tales that refuse to condescend.
Wow! If you have never even thought to ask these questions you will be amazed by this film, and if you have asked these questions, then this film is the reward that other people thought them too and knew how to manifest them perfectly!
Total respect to all responsible for this unique and delicious masterpiece. :)
When I say attention to detail, I mean the in-depth study of characters. I was asking several questions as to why certain characters were acting the way they were towards others and just when I thought "there's something the film has done wrong", it went back and answered my question twenty minutes later. Without giving anything away, I couldn't work out why Alex (Rickman) was so antagonistic towards the truck driver but the film answers the question near the end when Alex's past tragedy becomes clear; also, the attention to the characters in particular was outstanding. Vivienne (Hampshire) has the interesting quirk of putting her McDonalds fries in her burger and then eating it, Linda (Weaver) is able to identify that Alex is wearing her 'third favourite sweater' and all throughout the film, sounds and noises in the background of dogs barking, birds chirping and distant traffic puts us there.
I got the feeling that before every take whilst shooting; the filmmakers thought of everything they possibly could to either hint at past and unseen events or just ask themselves 'this situation has arisen what would happen' and this is where the script being re-written and thought through on such an impressive level comes in that it's hard to think of another recent film that is as impressive as this. I loved the way the film actually re-starts after about fifteen minutes following an action that even I was surprised by; I loved the way that during Alex and Vivienne's journey, we are given time out to see side shots of massive trucks suddenly blur by, emphasising the seemingly random and unnecessary. It seems ironic that the film has that certain 'snowy' look to it and the exterior shots that feel like absolute white allows you to actually 'see' the cold rather than feel it since if we're watching a film in a warm room, we can't feel what the characters are feeling.
Another strong point is the cast. Having Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver and Carrie-Ann Moss away from trying to either blow up John McLane, fight off Aliens or box a bunch of Agent Smiths is a real treat and you quickly forget who's who these are really recognisable faces in a film you don't expect them to be in and for me to forget who they are and just accept them as characters is really impressive. The film uses an impressive array of techniques to get across its effectiveness the first proper interaction between Alex and Maggie (Moss) is in a room full of red, signalling danger there are red curtains, red candles, they're even drinking red wine and what with Linda already labelling her a prostitute, we are suddenly weary. I especially liked the way that Alex and Maggie's lakeside conversation was intercut with shots of melting ice coming apart as Alex himself describes how his life melted away and came apart when he suffered his past tragedy again, attention to detail is the key here as a seemingly straight forward conversation has been thought through with shots of melting ice.
Snow Cake is the sort of film you watch and allow yourself to get wrapped up in. It is an emotional journey with powerful acting and many, many effective scenes effective because they're well shot and thought through but effective because they make you feel during the film. Really well written, really well directed and really well acted by Weaver and Rickman as the two leads memorable film.
Alan Rickman plays a tortured soul like no other actor, and gives a moving performance. Carrie Ann Moss wears no makeup and comes off ten times sexier than she does in Matrix leather, and that is sexy.
At some point this film will be compared to "The Curious Incident of the Dog at in the night-time" which is supposed to be filmed by Steven Kloves, and should pose a great challenge to translate from book to screen. And what a wonderful book that was as well. I probably liked that book even better than this film, but I will be greatly surprised if the Kloves film captures what this film managed to do. Angela Pells has written a moving script. At times hilarious, frequently touching, and one of the best "little" films that I have ever seen. Don't miss it.
i liked the movie; probably would have shorten it about 5-7 minutes. the camera in the first minutes is a bit annoying; potter 3 had the same problem. anyway, alan rickman was really good (even if i wished he wasn't too chary in some scenes) and sigourney weaver tried her best, but sometimes met her limits. carry ann moss' character was unfortunately meaningless, only good for alex' development (and one of the funniest scenes in the movie) - not her fault. the story is lovely narrated - audience and critics agreed on that. 8 of 10 points.
Lately I've been telling people that this is my all-time favorite movie, and I haven't changed my all-time favorite movie since Silence of the Lambs came out. Let me tell you: Snow Cake deserves the number one slot. It is undoubtedly the peak performance of both Alan's and Sigourney's careers, and if they manage to pull off something even more impressive, I will hale them as the greatest actors of our generation -- though I have already bestowed this title upon Mr. Rickman. I have shown this movie to dozens of friends, and each of them said the same thing of Alan's abilities in Snow Cake; he acts as if he isn't acting at all. In every one his movies, but in this one in particular, he has this innate skill of making you believe he IS the person he plays. There is no falter in his performance, no moment when you question him. His emphasis in empathy with the audience is truly stunning. Mr. Rickman's portrayal of a flawed Alex Hughes is utterly flawless in and of itself.
From what I have read, the most controversial aspect of Snow Cake is in Sigourney Weaver's performance. It seems to me that you either love her or you hate her. I most definitely fall into the former category; having an autistic but highly verbal brother myself, I very much appreciated the obvious research she put into her role. I have watched this movie with my mother, and every time she displayed a new compulsion or tic, we commented on how we had seen these exact same expressions from my brother. I'm very appreciative that Ms. Weaver studied her part so thoroughly, whereas some actors would have not done nearly as meticulous a job of getting into the mind of an autistic person.
I've watched Snow Cake five times even within the past three days, and I have yet to tire of its breathtakingly moving performances, beautiful artistic cinematography, and heart-wrenching storyline. I have never been so appreciative of such little aspects of movies as I am in Snow Cake, such as tiny quirks of the eyebrow from Alan, or the subtle inability to meet other's eyes from Sigourney. There isn't a single part of this film that I would alter, and as a film fanatic, this is quite the accomplishment. Go out and find this movie: You will not be disappointed.
The movie starts with the introduction of Alan Rickmans character, who is obviously a man who isn't open to the world. We will find out why, but before that, we are introduced to a girl who is bugging him. At first she annoys him, but not for long ...
This all plays in the first few minutes of the film, so it's not a spoiler. If you want to know more, you can read the plot outline, found somewhere on this site. If I were you, I wouldn't do that. Just rent the movie and watch ... if you like a drama that is also funny in quirky kind of way, but still feels real, than you are going to enjoy this, as I did!
These aspects of autism (and those slightly harder to deal with in everyday life)are wonderfully portrayed by Sigourney Weaver in this film.
The dialogue is quirky, not only from Weaver, but Rickman's unique blend of sarcasm and open cynicism serves as a fascinating contrast. The way his character comes to terms with his own grief through her is life affirming.
The performances were beautifully judged from the entire cast, with too many good performances to single out individuals.
I am a sentimental fool (as my mother unnecessarily informed me in the car on the way home!) And although she enjoyed the film I do not believe it had quite the same effect on her as it did me. The film is not showing as widely as I would like in the UK, but I urge everyone to make a particular effort to see this, especially if like me, you have a soppy side to your personality!