'First Snow' Falls Short

Friday, April 6, 2007

"First Snow" starts out with a compelling premise but melts all too quickly.

Jimmy (Guy Pearce), a wheeler-dealer salesman forced to kill time in New Mexico while his car undergoes repair, sits down with a fortuneteller (J.K. Simmons) who tells him compelling things about his future. Jimmy should expect a financial windfall but also an early death -- due to happen right about the first snow.

Jimmy, who's forever hustling and unable to commit to his girlfriend, Deirdre (Piper Perabo), takes the fatal pronouncement -- and life itself -- seriously.

Pearce, who has yet to find a truly memorable role since his star turn in 2000's "Memento," gives Jimmy more personable dimension than his character deserves. (See In Focus on Page 35.) And as usual, Simmons -- one of the screen's great character actors -- steals every scene he's in. But director/co-writer Mark Fergus (who also co-wrote last year's "Children of Men") fails to sustain our interest. Jimmy becomes tediously obsessed with finding out who may be motivated to kill him -- including Vincent (Shea Whigham), an old buddy recently out of prison, who blames Jimmy for the misadventure that put him away. His alienation of his girlfriend and co-workers in the process feels cliched. And a movie that clearly aims to be a cool, picturesque modern film noir becomes another moody banality.

-- Desson Thomson

First Snow R, 101 minutes Contains violence, profanity and sexual scenes. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.

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