Black Snake Moan

Starring Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman and Carrie Anne Moss.
Running Time: 107 mins
Rated: Directed by Marc Evans. Rated M (moderate themes, moderate coarse language)

Marc Evans has made horror films previously (My Little Eye, Trauma) and a Welsh documentary. He is preparing a film about Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas. So, it is a surprise to find this unusual drama made for an older audience rather than younger.

The setting is northern Canada in winter. A rather dour Englishman gives a lift to a genial young woman and his life is transformed. He visits the woman's mother and finds that she is an articulate autistic woman. She brings him out of his rather glum self-preoccupation. So does her neighbour with whom he becomes involved.

So that readers may experience some surprise while watching Snow Cake, this review leaves out some key plot developments which make the film unusual - and unpredictable. But, it should be said that the three stars give heartfelt performances which make us interested in and caring for them. Alan Rickman brings his customary sepulchral voice and manner to the role of the Englishman. It suits him perfectly - and it is interesting to observe him becoming more normal. Carrie Anne Moss is the kindly neighbour.

But the film is also a showcase for Sigourney Weaver. Apparently, she did research into the way autistic women behave. She reproduces it so well that we forget that this is Sigourney Weaver, star of so many films and the archetypal warrior of the Alien series. One of the characters early in the film voices what is probably in the minds of audiences, 'I know about autism. I saw that film.' Autism, however, manifests itself in quite diverse ways so that we are never too sure how this character will behave, giving us some tension feelings.

The tone of the film is rather low-key but it offers insight into human nature and the unpredictable ways in which we behave.

DendyOut August 2

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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