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By Don R. Lewis | February 13, 2007

A while back I was in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival. As I started to settle into my condo, I flipped on the TV to catch the news. The lead story was about a group of skiers who had been lost in an avalanche and had been missing for a day or two. The story brightened a bit when the skiers were found but then, the whole thing took a turn for the worst as the helicopter in which they were being rescued smashed into a mountain killing everyone on board. Yikes. As tragic as that event was, all everyone could really think to say was, “I guess their time was really up.” Although we all know it and think it, it still sucks to know that you have little control over your destiny and when you’re going to check out. But what if you did know? Would you be able to do anything about it?

“First Snow” tells the clever tale of a sleaze-bag salesman named Jimmy (Pearce) who kills time after his car breaks down by visiting a psychic (Simmons) located in a tiny trailer. The psychic gives Jimmy a reading that includes some good news about a sports bet and an investment, but then things get hairy. The psychic kind of freaks out and ends the reading. He even gives Jimmy his money back, but won’t say why. Eventually Jimmy returns home to his hanger-on life and his hot girlfriend, Deirdre (Perabo), but he soon figures out that the psychic is no phony. His premonitions seem accurate and Jimmy figures out the psychic’s seen a not-so-distant-future demise.

“First Snow” is a cool little idea and a sharp film. The idea that if you knew you were going to die fairly soon because a psychic told you so can be told several ways. Maybe the character involved decides to go the frat boy route and screw chicks and party it up. Or maybe he sets out to apologize or get revenge on people in his life. “First Snow” goes in the direction of having a greasy lead character try and solve the mystery of how he’s going to die and then, how he can try to stop it.

Guy Pearce does a good job with his character, but lets face it, a sleazy salesman named Jimmy conjures the image of a guy with slicked back hair, a pinky ring and a cigarette, which is exactly how Jimmy is portrayed in the film. The guy has some charm and can talk a good game, but I never believed for a second that his girlfriend would stick with this guy. Heck, I could barely believe he even had a job. The personal journey Jimmy goes through is compelling, but I felt like the filmmakers were trying to cram too much “bad Jimmy” into the character for the sole purpose of having us see him change. As a result, he wasn’t natural or really believable and when a character is in every frame of the film, you need to really be on board with them.

Still, “First Snow” is an interesting and entertaining film. It’s suspenseful and kind of scary. I like the way it’s easy to put yourself in Jimmy’s position and ask “what would I do if this was me.” I also felt myself guessing along with Jimmy on what twist of fate could lead to death. Is it all a paranoid nightmare? Is it a case of attracting your fate by being consumed by an idea? Or is it just Jimmy’s time? Those kinds of questions really stick with you after the film is over even if the film itself feels like something you’ve seen before.

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