Before Pineapple Express, David Gordon Green directed rough family drams like George Washington and Undertow. Gordon’s other 2008 release, Snow Angels has about as much in common with Pineapple Express as Obama and McCain – or better yet, Alan Keyes and Ralph Nader. In a small Pennsylvania town, a divorced couple (Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell) fight over their daughter. Meanwhile Beckinsale is having an affair with her best friend’s husband (Nicky Katt). Bekinsale works at a restaurant with highschooler Arthur who’s discovering first love with Lila. Arthur’s parents have just separated. The film is relentlessly grim and depressing with most adults (except Arthur’s mom and the best friend) acting like selfish children, consistently making poor choices . . .
The film is interesting in showing the stages of amorous relationships from the discovery phase with the teens Arthur and Lila to the irreconcilable end-game of Beckinsale-Rockwell. The cold wintry landscapes perfectly capture the ubiquitous barren souls but it’s a tough one to sit through. The adults are so selfish, they completely lose track of their children. Beckinsale struggles with her role, but everyone else does an admirable job, especially Rockwell, who has never shown this kind of depth. Tom Noonan pops up, deadpan hilarious, in an early scene as a marching band director. As for Green, he keeps a consistetly bleak and joyless tone throughout. The best scenes involve the two teenagers and Arthur's mom. It’s almost a B, except that it makes the only (recently converted) Christian a gun-loving nutjob. B-