Monkey Reviews

Through the Eyes of A Chimp

Monkey Reviews
January 1, 2008
FIRST SNOW: Fortune for the Monkey

Is our destiny fated or are we in control of our outcome? This is the dilemma “First Snow” grapples with. But what if it’s both. In a series of suspenseful twists and turns this movie tells us a story of Jimmy Starks (played by Guy Pearce), a traveling salesman, a man whose image has been carefully groomed, a man intent on making it big, someone unimportant with a determination to be a somebody. But as life would have it, the universe doesn’t always play by our own rules. In the case of Jimmy, reality comes knocking in a small everyday occurrence. A simple break-down on a lonely stretch of highway brings him to his turning point.; it becomes his unraveling. Nothing is the same after, in a moment of boredom, having to wait for his car to be repaired, he happens on an unassuming fortune teller.

Being the typical salesman, devoted to the superficial, he tries to ignore this encounter but something primal, something that has been put to sleep, has been aroused. What happens next is what creates the suspense. “First Snow” is suspenseful, in the classic psychological way. What brings up the fear for the viewer is not the problem of an external villain but rather what has happened in Jimmy’s psyche. The external and the internal are linked in a dance of paranoia and fear. What is real is now up for grabs. What the movie manages to do is to take the viewer to a place where we are not merely an observer. We also don’t know quite what to believe.

First Snow is a good story, told with a lot of nuance and realism that often comes from the “Indie” genre. But what made it a great story and movie is the exploration of that universal question: fate vs. free-will. The character of the movie was invited to a life beyond the black and white, beyond the surface and beyond the bottom line. He was, by grace really, asked to enter a new dance where how you live doesn’t necessarily change your destiny but it makes it a destiny filled with meaning. As Theusus, an early mythological Greek Hero once said, “Within fate we are given the freedom to make the most of our lives within the prescriptions of the Gods.” (paraphrased by a good friend who happens to be avid hobbyist of Ancient Rome

I feel fortunate to have discovered this little unassuming movie which ended up being one of the better movies I’ve seen in a long while. Certainly a great movie to the end the year on. I look forward to another year of great movies. Happy 2008!!