A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has a violent ending that might disturb younger viewers. It explores themes of alcoholism, self harm, depression, infidelity, and the nature of violence. The contrast between sensual teenage discovery and adult acts of brutality may leave a lasting impression on sensitive viewers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
SNOW ANGELS traces the lives of several families as they intersect in a small American town. Arthur Parkinson (Michael Angarano from Lords of Dogtown) is a teen whose family life quietly crumbles while he puts in days at high school and nights working as a dishwasher at the local Chinese restaurant. His former babysitter, Annie (Kate Beckinsdale), who works with Arthur as a waitress, has trouble at home as well. But her troubles are amplified by her husband Glenn's (Sam Rockwell) teetering journey between born-again Christianity and his own demons. Amy Sedaris plays Annie's friend Barb, whose friendship is tested by Annie's behavior. Meanwhile, Arthur meets an interesting girl named Lila (Olivia Thirlby from Juno) whose unique vision inspires him to connect in an environment where connection can be fraught with disappointment, or danger.
Is it any good?
This darkly poetic film is based on a novel by Stewart O'Nan. Its characters explore the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is desirable in relationships. The violence in the movie attempts to explore themes of faith and abandonment, though it seems inevitable -- even ingrained. Overall the performances are outstanding, with perhaps the exception of Kate Beckinsdale's Annie, who for a brief moment when she ends things with her lover, seems to forget that a tragedy has taken place. Teens will be entranced by the budding romance, but alternately disturbed by the proximity of other people's problems.
"We're all part of a formation," says Arthur's teacher at band practice. "Every person matters. Every step is in anticipation of the next." This statement becomes a credo for this haunting film, as events of the past weeks untangle. Director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) paints a sensual, haunted portrait of contemporary post-industrial America. This is a land where evangelical ideals mingle with furtive trysts in motel rooms. Where bleak winter scenes and dark interiors are warmed by the sensuality of first love. It's also a place where devotion turns to violence, and silence is interrupted by terse emotional outbursts. The characters who have fewer illusions about their lives -- like Arthur and his mom -- are rewarded. Those who are steeped in illusion suffer a grim fate. Could this be a cautionary tale for our time? Green is a director to watch, and fans will enjoy this cornerstone of his repertoire.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about healthy relationships versus dysfunctional ones. What does it mean to be innocent? What does it mean to be disillusioned? How does Arthur cope with his parents' split? How does Glenn cope with his separation from Annie? How does one path lead to fulfillment and the other to destruction?
- In theaters: March 7, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: September 16, 2008
- Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Michael Angarano, Sam Rockwell
- Director: David Gordon Green
- Studio: Warner Independent
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, some violent content, brief nudity, and drug use.
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