Sigourney Weavers piercing portrayal propels this distinctive, often comedic picture about a high-functioning autistic.
Set in the isolated, snow-covered town of Wawa in Northern Ontario, Canada, the story begins with Alex Hughes (Alan Rickman), an urbane, introspective, misanthropic Brit en route to Winnipeg, who reluctantly picks up a vivacious teenage hitchhiker, Vivienne (Emily Hampshire), who is subsequently killed when an 18-wheeler crashes into his car.
Guilt-ridden, he seeks out her mother Linda (Sigourney Weaver), who shrugs off her daughters death and invites Alex to play on her trampoline. Though blameless, Alex feels some sense of obligation, having to do with the death of his own son and his recent parole from prison, so he agrees to stay until after the funeral. Then, too, theres the lonely neighbor (Carrie-Anne Moss), who welcomes Alex into her bed.
Written by Angela Pell, whose plot revolves on contrivance and coincidence, and directed by Marc Evans, it radiates sensitive authenticity. Eschewing the Rain Man concept of the autistic savant, Weavers vividly intriguing performance varies from anguished (when the exact order of her house is changed by unwitting visitors) to exuberant (when playing with a sparkly toy). But at no time does she emotionally acknowledge the death of her daughter – and Rickman counters with subtle intelligence.
From Oprah to The View to Larry King Live to Boston Legal, on which one of the leading characters has Aspergers syndrome which curbs social interaction, autism has come into focus recently. No wonder – since the disorder now affects one in every 150 children, 10 times the rate of the 1980s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Snow Cake is a multi-layered, resonant 7. Its poignant and powerful.