Review: First Snow (2007)

D: Mark Fergus
S: Guy Pearce, Piper Perabo

What do you do when you find out that you're going to die before the first snow?  That's the premise of this movie, and it's essentially a character study that follows the path of a successful salesperson named Jimmy Sparks (Guy Pearce) who finds himself stranded in the desert one day - and happens upon a soothsayer who tells him he's about to come into a big deal, then refuses to tell him what he sees after that.  After confronting the soothsayer when the deal comes through, wanting to know what it was that made him refund Jimmy's money and walk out, the soothsayer lets him know that his death was what he'd seen, before the first snow.  This news sends Jimmy's life into a spiral, as he obsesses over the prediction, and begins exploring some possible ways that he might kick the bucket.  This search draws him back into a world that he thought he had left, as he visits the home of a childhood friend who took the fall for a scam he and Jimmy ran many years ago - going to prison while Jimmy walked free.  Jimmy finds that his "friend" has fallen back into a world of drugs and violence, and becomes concerned as random phone calls with nobody on the other end begin haunting his home life.  Jimmy tries to convince his friend's parole officer that the friend is a threat, but since he's the one who broke into his friend's home, he can't rely on anything that he learned while in there.  The police and parole officer are useless to Jimmy, who eventually agrees to meet with his friend, after distributing the windfall from his "big deal" among some friends and to his girlfriend.  The meeting goes awry, bad things happen, and Jimmy doesn't live to see the first snow.  But it's not the destination that's interesting, it's the journey, and this is a movie that's all about the journey.

It's a good movie - if a little light.  The performances from Guy Pearce and Piper Perabo are good enough to hold down the fort, but the real scenery is chewed up and spit out by two great character actors: J.K. Simmons as the soothsayer and William Fichtner as Jimmy's work buddy, who tries to convince him to give up the obsession that's taken over his life and return to sales, which he knows and loves.  The tension builds slowly, and the pacing is very good overall.  Good film, excellent script, great casting.