Plowing headfirst into one last storm

First Snow

on March 23, 2007 by Chad Greene
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“Any interesting diversions around here?” Jimmy Starks (Guy Pearce, The Proposition ) asks the mechanic working on his car, which has sputtered to a stop in a high desert hamlet.

The man in the greasy coveralls shrugs. “There's some cliffs, 'bout a mile off.”

A salesman to his core, Jimmy passes on the rock formations and instead spends most of the afternoon trying to sell an antique jukebox to the owner of a roadside bar. But this go-getter's life nonetheless plunges off a metaphorical cliff when, desperate to kill a couple more minutes, he visits an iterant fortuneteller (J.K. Simmons, The Astronaut Farmer ).

The faded sign leaning against the side of the trailer reads, “fortunes told,” but Jimmy's more interested in fortunes to be made — which the psychic predicts he will do in short order. While delving deeper into Jimmy's “noisy mind,” however, he goes into a convulsion and refuses to reveal what vision disturbed him so.

“No offense, but I've had better fortune cookies,” Jimmy scoffs.

But, when the fortuneteller's positive predictions prove dead-on, Jimmy begins to see portents of doom all around him, from a roadside cross marking the spot of a fatal accident to the surgeon general's warning on the side of his pack of Lucky Strikes (ironic, since if the reports of his demise have not been greatly exaggerated, those cigarettes may be the only thing “lucky” about Jimmy).

Much to the chagrin of his girlfriend (Piper Perabo, The Prestige ) and best friend (William Fichtner, Blades of Glory ) — the latter of whom points out that signs of mortality are like red VW Bugs, in that you see an awful lot of them once you start looking — Jimmy becomes obsessed with finding out what the fortuneteller saw. Turns out, it wasn't good.

“No more tomorrows” after — yep, you guessed it — the first snow, he reveals.

“Well, shit, I guess I oughta pack up and move to Florida,” Jimmy jokes. But to him the prediction is no laughing matter. The rest of this drama lives up to its billing as a psychological thriller, as a tormented Jimmy struggles to face, and hopefully avert, his fate — but, in doing so, inadvertently sets in motion the chain of events that may ultimately lead to his death.

A promising directorial debut for screenwriter Mark Fergus (who, along with writing partner Hawk Ostby, earned an Academy Award nomination for Children of Men ), First Snow is a thoughtful, but tense, meditation on whether the knowledge of your impending demise would be a curse or a gift. The movie itself, bolstered by yet another pitch-perfect Pearce performance, definitely falls into the latter category. Distributor: Yari
Cast: Guy Pearce, Piper Perabo, J.K. Simmons, Rick Gonzalez, Shea Whigham and William Fichtner
Director: Mark Fergus
Screenwriters: Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby
Producers: Tom Lassally, Robyn Meisinger, Sean Furst, Bryan Furst and Bob Yari
Genre: Psychological thriller
Rating: R for language, some violence and sexuality
Running time: 102 min.
Release date: March 23, 2007

Tags: ari Cast: Guy Pearce, Piper Perabo, J.K. Simmons, Rick Gonzalez, Shea Whigham, William Fichtner, Hawk Ostby, Tom Lassally, Robyn Meisinger, Sean Furst, Bryan Furst, Bob Yari, Psychological thriller, Florida, fortunetellers, doom, surgeon, metaphorical
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