First Snow

Director: Mark Fergus

The dismal fate of self-admitted “desert rat,” a.k.a. arrogant salesman Jimmy Starks propels this bleak and gritty neo-noir from first time director Mark Fergus, who along with his co-writer Hawk Ostby penned one of the best films of 2006 with their adaptation of Children of Men. In First Snow, we follow our unlikable hero played by Guy Pearce as he takes inventory of past mistakes in order not to set things right but hopefully stave off his impending death which was predicted by a eerily convincing and cryptic ten dollar fortune teller (J.K. Simmons) who states that Jimmy will flourish professionally until his life runs out with the first snow as “no more roads” are glimpsed in his future. At this point logic driven audience members will undoubtedly ask how much of Jimmy’s plot is fate and how much is actually going to be self-fulfilling prophecy but convinced the noir setup has to pay off grandly, we stay with the tale. Revisiting the same themes of revenge and regret with the underlying sense of dread that permeated some of Pearce’s other dark work including the masterpiece Memento that first launched him into the spotlight, First Snow sets itself up for greatness but it ultimately suffers due to the sheer unpleasantness of our main character who treats his associates and girlfriend like disposable trash. In addition, the intentionally ugly and greasy cinematography sure to get the “worst side” of all along with the B movie aura never makes First Snow appear to be anything but a cheap thriller, although hope is held out for an ending that may try and tie it all together. However, we later discover that the conclusion is revealed as voice-over and may have been missed if audience members had simply coughed too loudly or zoned out, which made my mind in particular begin to reel and come up with a handful of ways the ending could have been better tied in with the story to still get the point across in a way that doesn’t make it feel tacked on and ultimately unmemorable. A moody failure, Pearce and the writers try but ultimately are snowed in by First Snow.