“Snow Cake,” review by Susan Granger

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Sigourney Weaver’s 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 daughter’s 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, there’s 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, Weaver’s 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 Asperger’s 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. It’s poignant and powerful.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.

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