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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

First Snow: A Tightly-Wound Psychological Thriller

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Guy Pearce gazes into his future

When we think we know our fate, that’s when the gods laugh at us. So begins First Snow, a tight psychological thriller from the writers of Children of Men, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby. The film stars Memento grad, Guy Pearce, who plays the lead character, Jimmy Starks, with a raw mixture of self-satisfied narcissism and soul-searching.

Jimmy’s adventure begins when he hits a ditch at 60 mph in the New Mexico desert and damages the front-end of his car. He has to pull into a truck-stop mechanic to fix it, where he happens upon an aged fortune-teller, played with compassion and simplicity by J.K. Simmons of television’s Oz and The Closer. The fortune-teller is a character against type, without the typical charlatan tricks of your average “psychic.” Vacaro, the fortune-teller, is a simple man who’s only looking for enough gas to get to a lake in the mountains where he can fish and be by himself. His ominous reading spooks Jimmy into a tailspin, questioning his life and his fate.

Jimmy attempts to run away from the dire warning in Vacaro’s vision. Either way, the life of the traveling flooring salesman that he knew is over. As the character of Jimmy is explored, we see a life built on broken promises and pipe dreams. He interacts with a stellar cast of characters, including Coyote Ugly’s Piper Perabo, and William Fichtner, lately of TV’s “Prison Break” and “Invasion.” All are forced to watch as Jimmy seemingly self-destructs in his obsession with what will happen to him after the “first snow.”

Like a classical Greek tragedy, Jimmy’s attempt to thwart his fate causes him to run right into it, but like any good thriller, what happens to him is both unexpected and compelling. “It was definitely inspired by Oedipus,” said Fergus in an interview with The Mass Media. “We definitely wanted to keep a sense of pre-destination.”

Unlike a Greek tragedy, Jimmy does change his character over the course of the movie. Fergus noted that the movie is meant to bring up questions of examining one’s life and deciding whether or not one will change or continue to move along the same path. When asked if either he or Ostby had ever been to a fortune-teller, he noted that Ostby had, but he hadn’t.

The film is Fergus’ directorial debut. He said that he was able to draw inspiration from working with Alfonso Cuarón on Children of Men. “He’s a very specific director … it was a process of watching something become something else, something different.” Fergus also noted the importance of adaptability in being a screenwriter. The actors in the movie deviated from the script; Fichtner in particular liked to ad lib. “Fichtner’s amazing, he’s going to be a star someday. Everybody already knows his face.”

First Snow hits theaters March 23.