This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com
Alex (Alan Rickman) feels a bit guilty. He survives a nasty car / lorry interface scenario, but the ditsy hitch-hiker the curmudgeonly old grump picks up along the way is reduced to a greasy smear on the windscreen. Vivienne Freeman (Emily Hampshire)’s passing may not be mourned by an audience who tire of her ‘quirky’ ‘oddball’ ‘charms’ in record time, at least if we’re anyone to go by. She has irritating eyes, which is no mean feat. Anyway, the point is that while we may issue a cheer as Viv is ground into a fine paste by harsh, unforgiving metal, the usually solitary Alex is a shade more upset by the loss of someone who was beginning to draw him out of his shell a little, threatening to reveal his Big Secret regarding his recent release from prison.
Suffering a health dose of survivor guilt, Alex decides he must pay his respects to the family. With Viv’s grandparents away on holiday, the only person left to speak to is Viv’s severely autistic mother, Linda (Sigourney Weaver). Alex decides that Linda should not be left on her own during what’s traditionally a trying time for a grieving mother, although being far from traditional Linda doesn’t grieve. Well, apart from when Alex tries to enter her kitchen. Bit touchy about that one.
Holing up on the family couch, Alex strikes up what’s no doubt intended as a charming friendship with Linda while also forging a more intimate one with neighbour Maggie (Carrie-Anne Moss), who comes across as the sort of person a hippie would become after being hit with the cynical stick. Blah, blah, self discovery, blah, blah, healing all round, blah, blah, everyone winds up a more rounded, if not happier person. Apart from Vivienne. She’s still dead. Ans Linda. She’s still crazy.
Every year winds up producing at least one of this sub-genre, the Oscar-baiting ‘Crazy People Are Awesome’ film. And why not? It seems to work, critically and commercially. In any sensible world A Beautiful Mind would have been roundly ignored, not critically lauded and be-Oscared. I’m tired of this. We must stop this madness! Crazy people are not awesome. They’re ill. They don’t invariably spread happiness like some sort of magic pixie firing lovedarts from the happy cannon. It’s a trauma for everyone involved, not some knockabout family friendly shenanigans.
Not that Snow Cake is really any of the above, and I’m being desperately unfair on what is a perfectly competent film. In fact, it’s rather more than that, mainly because it has Alan Rickman in it. Seekers after the truth will have realised by this point that there is no such thing as a bad Alan Rickman film, even that one with the Brian Adams song in it. There’s nothing offensively terrible in here, and thanks more to talent than inspiration the chemistries between Rickman, Weaver and Moss prove effective and mildly touching, in the end.
However, for all of its plus points it’s never much more than another ‘Crazy People Are Awesome’ film, that features said crazy person rocking back and forth while hugging their knees. Gnngurgh.
This well might not be completely dry yet, but that’s almost beside the point. We just don’t need any more water just now. I’ve no doubt that anyone sitting in front of Snow Cake will find the time passing enjoyably enough and few will storm the ticket office demanding refunds. It’s just that it’s getting difficult to build up a head of caring about this splintergenre that’s in danger of completely ghettoising itself.