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Snow Cake (2006)

PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2006 3:15 pm
by justindeimen
Courtesy of


The simple truth about Snow Cake is that it wants us to accept people as they are. No matter what their misdeeds, their trespasses or what their very natures are. It centres itself upon a reserved, tired Alex Hughes (Alan Rickman) who looks upon his inadequacies as a quandary that he imprisons himself in. The vivacious Vivienne (Emily Hampshire) plumps herself down in front of him unexpectedly and tells him that she chose to talk to him because he looks lonely and that she needs a favour. We start to sense a dire loneliness and need in his attempt to offer his assistance amidst his understandable reluctance. He reveals to her a caveat that she takes surprisingly well leading to the first human connection he has had in a long while.

And as tragedy strikes early and just as cruelly, Alex takes it upon himself to seek out Viviennes mother in Wawa, Ontario. Alexs guilt, his despair, and perhaps his self-loathing, is so great that he seeks out certain punishment and admonishment from a stranger. The mother, Linda Freeman (Sigourney Weaver) presents herself to him as an unreasonably cold woman but the story progresses on to show us that shes a high-functioning autistic with the ability to carry on a sensible conversation and possesses an admirably strong sense of self. She shows an underlying intelligence to penetrate through the veneers of Alexs remorse and misplaced guilt but without the slightest pretense, she urges him to stay awhile. Stunned and just a little awed by her refreshingly honest innocence, Alex relents.

Alex acts as a foil to Lindas idiosyncrasies, both the hard times and the welcoming times that result in a close and intimate friendship. We discover, as does he, that Linda betrays the unfair perception of autism that even the good attentions of her friends fall victim to. She is self-sufficient to an extent that hes surprised to discover, and self-aware of her differences. Her ability to articulate her feelings and sense the emotions of those around her offers Alex different perspectives. She lets her words cut through and dispose of any sentiment of pity and replaces it with a joyful sense of humour that is dispersed throughout the film.

Underneath the films frosted exterior of the biting Ontario snow, it hides the oft-unused human faculty of forgiveness. It consciously weaves together hidden pasts and future relationships with this very fabric of forgiveness. Rickman situates himself between a rock and a hard place, with an acutely observed portrait of a man that is firmly barren while attempting to control his cascading emotions. Sometimes we can discern the charm that he must have once had, the wry smiles and knowing glances at Lindas facilitating neighbour, Maggie (Carrie-Ann Moss) show as much as his dour and obtrusive stone-faced expressions does.

Even as desperately lonely as Snow Cake starts out, it argues that even at the very end of a dark passage, at its final hurdles, the hopeless can still discover some measure of consolation in the tender arms of mercy and acceptance of love.