First Snow

Director: Mark Fergus.
Screenplay: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby.
Starring: Guy Pearce, J.K. Simmons, Piper Perabo, William Fichtner, Shea Wigham, Rick Gonzalez, Steven Michael Quezada, Adam Scott, Jackie Burroughs, David House, Luce Rains.

“Your fate lies on whatever road you take. Even if you choose to run from it”

Guy Pearce is a very talented actor that hasn’t quite achieved the leading man credentials he so thoroughly deserves. However, he still has a knack for choosing great roles. The real gems among his work tends to be lower budget indie fair. Some can hit the quality heights of Memento or L.A. Confidential and reach a mass audience while others become respectful career choices that tend to slip under the radar. Personally, I think Pearce’s choices are always very interesting and First Snow is a prime example of his astute eye for a good role and project.

Jimmy Starks (Pearce) is a cocky salesman who’s car breaks down outside a desolate New Mexico town. To pass the time he pays a visit to a roadside fortune teller (J.K. Simmons). Although skeptical, Jimmy soon realises that the psychic is no con man and he’s told that his future is very bleak. In fact, he’s told that his life will come to an end when the first snow arrives, leaving Jimmy to explore how his fate will be sealed.Making his directorial debut, screenwriter Mark Fergus (Children of Men, Iron Man) sets his stall up with a metaphysical tale that wouldn’t be out of place in a Twilight Zone episode. The premise is simple (but all the more effective for it) and there are elements that also bring reminders of Pearce’s Leonard Shelby from Memento. With a similar claustrophobic edge, his character is holed up in his apartment – or the occasional motel room – having anxious discussions on the telephone that may or may not seal his fate. It’s this psychological angle that really benefits this impressive and intriguingly abstract neo-noir.It’s very well shot and the always reliable Pearce adds another solid character to his résumé. He shows great range and holds the whole film together with his ability to switch from cocksure arrogance to paranoid wreck and has you delighted when it comes to watching him squirm. Pearce’s effortless range really brings his character to the fore but what also works is it’s haunting atmosphere and ability to maintain it’s eeriness and mystery on such a low-key scale.It’s a slow burner that explores the theoretical themes of predestination and self-determination and has you constantly wondering how events will pan out for our conscience-stricken protagonist. Unfortunately, the destination of his repentant road doesn’t end as well as it should. After such a gripping build up, the pay-off feels rushed and unsatisfactory but up until this point it’s a very involving thriller.An impressive feature debut from Mark Fergus and on this evidence it’s a shame that he hasn’t stepped behind the camera since. The ending may let it down but this is still a taut, psychological mystery that deserves to receive a wider audience.Mark Walker

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38 Responses to “First Snow”

  1. Always on the look-out for new Guy Pearce. I think what you say about his ability to find these great roles is just spot-on and the big reason I enjoy what he does. I mean I was about to say, like The Rover, his strong work in a lead role is frequently overlooked. . .but then I realized you can say that about basically anything he’s done lol.

    The only thing I think I regret about him is his choice to participate in Shane Black’s little rendition of Iron Man 3. Lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly man, I struggle to understand why Pearce isn’t even bigger than he already is. He’s always excellent. Anyway, I’m glad he holds the status he does as he has that freedom that some “bigger” stars don’t have. He’s able to take chances on projects and deliver little under the radar gems. This is that type of film.
      I stumbled on it last night and I really enjoyed it. Minus the amnesia element, this reminded me a lot of Memento. It’s not as good but that film happens to be one of my personal favourites of all time, so to even be reminded is high praise alone. Check it out, bro. Good little thriller.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m really glad you reviewed this film, Mark. Guy Pearce is so underrated. I fell hard for his talent as the villain in ‘Lawless’. He was outstanding. He’s smart and free–that is, doesn’t seem to be bound by Hollywood trappings. He picks good characters and eventually he will get his accolades. But maybe it doesn’t matter much to him. He sure makes every film better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wasn’t even going to write about this one, Cindy but felt I had to. If only to bring it to people’s attention. It’s a smart little thriller that has a lot going for it. Mainly that comes down to a convincing Pearce performance. Part of me wishes he would get more recognition for his work but then maybe his freedom of choice would be limited and films of this type wouldn’t see the light of day. I have a lot of admiration for Pearce and he’s the type of actor that can manage both big and small films with aplomb. I recommend this one!

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  3. Great review! Hadn’t heard of this one before but the cast does make it sound intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers Fernando. In fairness, this is Guy Pearce’s gig. The other characters (and actors) are secondary to his journey. Still, it’s a solid little flick that I would’ve rated even higher had I been convinced with the ending.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I hadn’t even heard of this Mark, but it sounds intriguing and it has quite a cast. It’s amazing to see Pearce’s range tackling all kinds of genres. If you like him, you should check out Breathe-In also, which shows a very different side of him.

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    • My very reasoning behind doing a review was because I suspected not many would have heard of this, Ruth. It’s worthy of some attention. A solid little mystery that really holds your attention.
      I am big admirer of Pearce and wish he’d get more recognition sometimes. I’ve heard of Breathe In but that’s one I haven’t got around to yet. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pearce another favorite of mine. It’s really a head-shaker he didn’t achieve the same fame (or awards) like his L.A. Confidential co-star Crowe. Well, at least I’ve never heard he ever attained the same bad behavior or notoriety. I’ll definitely check this out, Mark. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I can’t understand why Pearce didn’t take off the way Crowe did. I reckon he’s as good an actor.

      I’ve gathered some knowledge on your tastes, Michael and I reckon you’d take something from this flick.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hadn’t heard of this before so that was interesting to read, mate. Great looking cast, too – are Fichtner and Wigham any good? I like both of them and Fichtner in particular normally does well in this kind of film.

    I think Pearce deserves a big leading role with someone like Scorsese. It looks like Hollywood studios don’t trust him to sell enough tickets for their major projects, so he’s been given supporting roles of late that don’t seem to make use of his talent, like in Prometheus and Iron Man 3. A shame, really, and strange that he hasn’t worked with Nolan again since Memento.

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    • Yeah, this is worth some attention mate. Pearce is superb and it’s always great to see such quality supporting actors like Fichtner, Wigham and Simmons. That said, those three don’t feature very much and as reliable as Fichtner is, he’s underused here. Basically it’s a one man show and Pearce really delivers the goods.

      I think you’re spot about Hollywood not showing a lot of faith in him. Such a shame as he never gives a bad performance. I mean Iron Man 3? Really? Pearce is above that stuff and it’d be great to see him work with Nolan again. It is surprising considering Nolan tends to stick with the same actors.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Completely above Iron Man 3 (as are Sir Sir Ben Kingsley and Robert Downey Jr!). I’ve still got to see Animal Kingdom and The Rover – those are two Pearce films I am keen to check out.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, Pearce really shouldn’t be playing second fiddle so much these days and I wish Downey Jr would drop all this Iron Man nonsense. Tony Stark seems to have become his new identity and he’s much better than that.

        As for The Rover that’s a solid little film. It doesn’t have much in terms of story but the bleak visual approach and the performances are top notch. Animal Kingdom is a decent flick but I think of have to revisit that. I was left a little disappointed but I think my expectations were very high at the time fir to the mass critical acclaim it received. I need a reappraisal.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Too many actors getting comfy and pocketing big superhero paychecks! They should all be forced to sit in a blank room for hours where the only think to look at is a picture of Daniel Day-Lewis, and reflect.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha! I agree wholeheartedly. Day-Lewis is the prime example of a man that respects the craft. Reflect… bitches!!! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hmmmm, this completely passed me by obviously. And it’s got Guy Pearce too. Why haven’t I heard of this?? Cheers Mark!

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    • The very reason I decided on a short review bud! It would seem many haven’t heard of this. I was aware of it but it took me a while to get my hands on it. I’m glad I weeded it out, though. It’s a good little flick. Shamefully overlooked.

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  8. jackdeth72 Says:

    I think I was a variant of this trailer months ago focusing more on J.K. Simmons than Mr. Pearce, Mark.

    Definite ‘Memento’ and ‘Twilight Zone’ vibe going on. And few actors have as much fum playing amongst personal skeletons and paranoia than Guy.

    Looks great!

    Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pearce is certainly a go-to Guy for paranoia, Jack. He handles these type of roles very well indeed. And this is another example. I’m glad that Simmons has finally found recognition with his recent Oscar and that more people will seek out his work. If they stumble on this, they will not be disappointed. Although he’s hardly in it, Pearce more than makes up for it.
      Cheers my friend.

      Like

  9. jackdeth72 Says:

    Thanks, Mark:

    I checked IMDb and ‘First Snow’ was completed in 2006. So, it’s definitely worth re-discovering.

    Think of the fun Mr. Pearce could have with a pill popping modified re-make of Ray Milland’s ‘The Lost Weekend’ or Nicholas Ray’s ‘Larger Than Life’!

    Just a passing thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw man, I’ve not seen The Lost Weekend for years and Pearce would be great in that role. You put me in mind to catch that again. I haven’t seen Bigger Than Life but I’ll check that out. I also reckon Pearce would do well in a remake of Samuel Fuller’s Shock Corridor… We should be pitching these ideas to the studio heads, Jack 😉

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  10. Nice review Mark, thanks for bringing this movie to my attention. It definitely looks like something I would watch.

    Like

  11. A psychological mystery eh? Sounds up my alley! I think we have very similar tastes.

    I have not heard of this film at all!! Pearce and JK?! Bring it on!

    I love that you recognise Pearce mate, he isn’t the most recognisable Aussie actor but IMO he is by far the best. Did you see The Rover from last year? Good God he is a great actor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Such a great actor, man. I’d probably agree that he’s the best of Aussie actors around. It’s such a shame that he doesn’t get recognised more.
      I did see The Rover and I liked it. Thought Pearce was outstanding in it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah he is one of my favourites. Can nail such a variety of characters. And fuck he was intense in The Rover!! Tho Pattison surprised the hell outta me in that one!.

        I’m gonna rent this movie out it sounds like my kinda thang

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      • Absolutely! I’ve come to expect great performances from Pearce but Pattinson was a revelation, man. I didn’t care much for the story of The Rover but it was brilliantly shot and acted that I didn’t care. It was an impressive flick.

        Yeah, give this one a go, man. I only done a quick review to bring it to more people’s attention. I liked it.

        Like

      • Yeah I had never heard of it. Shall definetely check it out.

        And I’m with you on The Rover. Not perfect, but Pattison transformed himself and the score and photography was amazing. It was shot in my home state 😀

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      • If that’s your home state then it’s very photogenic. The film looked wonderful. I’m enjoying a lot of stuff from your neck of the woods right now (and your NZ neighbours). Joel Edgerton and especially Ben Mendelsohn are two great performers as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Edgerton is great, he also co-wrote The Rover. Ben Mendelsohn rings a bell, I’ll have to look him up to put a face to the name. Brendan Thwaites is getting better too as he gets less shitty roles.

        Re- The Rover, it was filmed in the Flinders Ranges, some of the most beautiful hills/mountains I have ever seen. At some times of the day the sun makes them give off a puple haze. Amazing place, perfect for a film set!

        Like

      • Mendelsohn is fabulous in Animal Kingdom, The Place Beyond the Pines, Starred Up and Killing Them Softly to name a few. He’s on a good role just now. I’ve seen a little of Thwaites but not overly keen on his films so far.
        That mountain range you speak of sounds lovely. I’m scottish myself so I know a little of beautifully scenery! 😉

        Like

  12. Well I’m definitely going to check it out. Sounds at the very least like a movie I’ll enjoy talking about. I like conversation starters 😉

    Like

    • I would recommend it Jay. One of those little flicks that seems to pass people by and doesn’t deserve to. It’s not perfect but it’s good entertainment nonetheless.

      Like

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