Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Snow (2014)

*Sigh* Book-to-movie adaptations are so rarely done well.Today I'm looking at Snow, an adaptation of the 2014 graphic novel of the same name...

Dana is a young woman living in Queen Street  Toronto, working at Abberline's bookstore. She's continually frustrated by the amount of stores that are closing down thanks to the flailing economy, and soon feels even worse when she finds out that Abberline's too is shutting down. As if things weren't bad enough, when Dana's walking home one night, she hears a gunshot in the shop next to her flat, and upon investigation, finds the store-owner bleeding badly from severe injuries. Dana tries to save the man, but he later dies en route to the hospital. Dana quickly becomes determined to find out who the dead man was, and who killed him...

Snow is a pretty dull film. It's not dreadfully boring, and it is watchable, but it's just plain listless, and the plot never amounts to anything, stopping abruptly. It's also pretty inconsistent in what it wants the movie to be about, whether it's a murder-mystery, an examination on the fate of small businesses in a poor economy, or a tale of self-esteem and self-improvement through new pathways.

As if those weren't problematic enough, this isn't a very good adaptation. For the most part, it gets the dialogue right, but while the book was interesting, and had an air of heaviness and melancholy to it, the movie doesn't.

Snow is only 77 minutes long, yet apparently the screenwriter must have thought that a regular running time was too long, as there's one moment where it seems like an important scene from the book has been cut out from the movie!...That's what it seems like at first, but as the movie rolled on, it turned out that the scene was merely pointlessly shoved later into the script, which definitely hurts the structure, so there might as well be a missing scene.

A particularly egregious crime Snow makes is in regards to the setting's weather from the book. This movie is in black-and-white for no other reason I can think of other than as a lame attempt to hide the fact that there's no snow in this movie! I'm serious, there's not a single flake of snow until the last two seconds in a movie called Snow!

There's one poorly adapted dialogue exchange here too, when Dana is asked about Abberline's status by a bartender. In the movie, he says "I heard you closed down" instead of "I heard you were closing down" as he does in the book. That may seem like a minimal change, but it actually means a lot. When Dana hears the latter, it fills her with fear for the possible future, but hearing a rumour that it's already closed is obviously untrue, so it shouldn't disturb her as much.

The lead character Dana is pretty bland, and dumb in a few scenes, like when she goes back to the crime scene in the hopes of finding out what happened, even though the police have already gone through everything days prior. She's also too stupid to tell the difference between "Who's there?" and "Suzanne". That was a problem with the book too, although it's presented here less confusingly. And finally, it's never explained what it is about Queen Street that she cares about so much. We have no idea why she doesn't just move.

Julia is a more likeable character, but there's not much to her. Same goes for the remaining characters. As for the abusive dick and his girlfriend, they add nothing to the movie beyond their first scene. If it was was their only one, things would be fine, as this is just a random occurrence, but the presence of their second scene means that they're now a bigger part of the film, yet they never appear again, nor is their story resolved. Also, their second scene feels really intrusive with its placement.

Snow's soundtrack is decent, and has one really nice tune on it, but it's too low-key althroughout, and far too repetitive.

The direction is ok. It's standard in places, but there are moments that look neatly stylish.

The acting in Snow is ok. There aren't really any bad performances, but lead Nina Iordanova's delivery in some scenes is a bit weak. One unintentionally hysterically funny scene when she's in the CD store after its owner has been shot. She calls for help, but does so really halfheartedly, and from the middle of the store. The intent isn't that she's too shocked to effectively call out, but rather this is the film's attempt at having her actually call out for help!

Kira Hall is decent, but rarely shows more than one emotion throughout the whole movie. Thankfully it's a lively one. And finally, Richard Chuang is sometimes a bit weak in his delivery too, but is otherwise entertaining.

I mildly recommend the original graphic novel of Snow, but not this film adaptation. It's short, but not worth your time...

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