First Snow

Director: Mark Fergus

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Guy Pearce plays Jimmy Starks the slightly seedy, slightly pitiful, slightly vain flooring salesman whose one great dream in life is to be selling Wurlitzer jukeboxes instead of flooring.

First SnowWe meet Jimmy in First Snow (2006) while he's on a traveling salesman's journey in the hinterlands. He's forced to linger at a crummy roadstop waiting for a repair on his car's breaks.

The abysmal dusty desert roadstop has one side of the hot tarmak devoted to Indians & Mexicans selling junk off blankets or cardtables set up beside their run-down vehicles.

To pass the tedium, Jimmy steps into a little silver trailer to have his fortune told by an old Indian cowboy (J. K. Simmons).

He's told a few generic positive things but then the old fortuneteller has a little fit & leaps away from touching Jimmy. He gives him his money back because he won't reveal what he saw.

From that moment on, Jimmy is obsessed. He begins to sluff off his leading position as a flooring salesman. The chance to sell Wurlitzers actually falls his way & instead of fulfilling his dumbass life's ambition, he has to return to that dusty roadstop & confront the fortuneteller again.

Even under threat of bodily harm, all the guy will say is, "I saw no more roads. Not much time left. One thing is certain. You're safe until the first snow."

Thereafter, every near-accident, error, or piece of bad luck gets Jimmy increasingly paranoid. As a common working stiff of uncommon good looks, small dreams, & a big impression of himself, Jimmy has just never been this deep. Now, he questions the meaning & purpose of life, & of death. He finds himself in a world with far more questions than answers, a world of fear & mystery in which dreams & vanity cease to have value.

First SnowSkittish of every possibility of injury, he has soon alienated his girlfriend (Piper Perabo), & is losing everything that formerly gave his life meaning.

Reevaluating everything he has ever done or ever been, he begins to feel haunted by mistakes of his past, & one ill deed in particular.

In attempting to track down a friend of his youth, who he worries might be out to kill him with good justification, he manages to set in motion the very vengeance he had feared. Had he never looked the man up, nothing that followed would've happened, & it's never clear how much that occurs could've been seen by a roadside fortuneteller & how much is just Jimmy generating unnecessary trouble for himself.

As his panic & paranoia reaches a crescendo, the radio informs that a cold front is on the way, bringing snowfall. And at last the snow does come, proving fate indeed to be dark & immutable.

Pearce has created an intense character, a veritable personification of guilty feelings & terror of life, awaiting his come-uppance for profoundly misguided choices of his youth. Toward the end he becomes strangely calm & really does try to set his life in order, like any man who knows he's soon to die. And then he heads off to face the one mistake that could never be made right.

The creative people who brought this film into being should be gawdamn proud to have made a thriiller this humanely tragic & mysterious.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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