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Snow Angels

Snow Angels

Beckinsale

A review of David Gordon Green's new film from the 2007 Sundance Film Festival

Kate Beckinsale is a tough one. Most know her as the chilly star of two Underworld movies, or as the love interest in any number of dreadful hit movies (want Click and Serendipity? You can have 'em). Lately she's been buffed and waxed into movie star perfection, but it may surprise some that under that immobile brow and those pumpkin-colored highlights are the instincts of a real actress. You get glimpses of that Kate Beckinsale in Snow Angels, the latest from All the Real Girls writer/director David Gordon Green.

Beckinsale plays one half of a married couple with the shambling Sam Rockwell, and to put him in a scene with the tightly-wound Beckinsale is to know immediately why these characters have begun separation proceedings. Beckinsale copes by sniping at her young daughter and carrying on an affair with Nicky Katt, and while she's intermittently interested in letting Rockwell back into her life (at least, before he inevitably screws things up again), a terrible tragedy severs their chances for reconciliation and sends both characters into some mighty dark places.

Green knows that things are going to get rough in this story, and before they do, you're allowed some hammy improv curlicues from the clever Katt and Rockwell, not to mention the always sublime Amy Sedaris as one of Beckinsale's coworkers. But despite the directorial precision on display here, and the resuscitation of Beckinsale as an interesting actress, the story remains stubbornly uninvolving. These actors go through some intense stuff, but you watch it happen at arms length, never feeling the things for them you'd need to in order to invest in the grim second half. What you end up with, then, is a movie as pretty - but as cold- as its title.

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Kyle Buchanan