Snow could serve its subject better
Starring Sobaz Benjamin and Kalista Zackhariyas. In English and Tamil with English subtitles. Rated PG.
There is every reason to feel for the predicament of Snow’s Sri Lankan protagonist, whose whole family perished in the 2004 tsunami. And there is no cause to doubt the motivation of writer-director Rohan Fernando, who previously made an NFB documentary (Blood and Water) about losing his own family members in the same massive disaster.
Unfortunately, the movie is a mess, with bad acting, weak dialogue, and arbitrary plotting persistently undermining whatever emotional content is on offer. The good stuff comes from lovely Kalista Zackhariyas, well cast as Parvati, the young village woman who suddenly finds herself in Canada, living with remarkably insensitive relatives in faraway Halifax. She has the presence and physical grace to hold the screen while not much happens—and that happens a lot. Obviously working on a very small budget, Fernando is overly dependent on nightmarish flashbacks to illustrate Parvati’s anguish. As appropriate as an ocean of evil may be to this particular story, water is the single most overused element of movie symbolism; here it washes over a lack of anything insightful the characters might have to say to each other, or us. The people playing our doleful protagonist’s new family and friends (several are related to the director) mumble and throw away their lines, which are frequently buried in the sound mix anyway.
Furthermore, the decision to restrict lenswork (except for a few pretty sequences) to tight, shaky-cam close-ups, often on the back of Parvati’s head, actually takes us away from her sense of displacement, especially when compared with, say, long shots that could have shown her dwarfed by “exotic” Nova Scotia. Instead, Halifax looks like nowhere in particular, and the people we meet—alarmingly prone to early death from drugs, suicide, and accident—seem arbitrarily assembled. Falling snow may represent both oppression and rebirth to our troubled protagonist but, sadly, it remains just so many soap flakes to the viewer.
Watch the trailer for Snow.