Baby It’s Cold Outside

Arrogant salesman Jimmy Starks (Guy Pearce) won’t live to see the season’s first winter storm, so says a psychic played by JK Simmons. First Snow then philosophically considers an ancient quandary: What someone might do if they knew the date they were meant to die.

First Snow asks a lot of Guy Pearce; it’s his movie, at times entirely his own. The camera likes to sit and watch him simmer alone in an apartment or motel room. He spends much of the movie contemplating the time he has left, trying to atone for his mistakes. Ultimately, First Snow wonders aloud why people live in their past, Starks’ costly mistake, because when he asks Simmons if fate can be changed, it’s an ambiguous answer – technically it can, but Starks can’t resist reconciling his guilt. Most people can’t.

First Snow depicts a man wasting hours, days, weeks, and feels like it too

It’s interesting on the surface, probably more so via text than in execution, the stellar cast aside (Piper Perabo, William Fichtner, Shea Whigham). A plodding pace doesn’t draw attention as the edits think they do, the simmering slow burn drama too often empty. First Snow depicts a man wasting hours, days, weeks, and feels like it too. There’s a call for Pearce to do something – anything – to energize this story.

As a parable about life, there’s enough to ponder. Ugly choices bring consequences, fatal ones to Starks, and it’s a matter of trying to make them right or move past them. Knowing we all have limited time, why waste it watching First Snow, or worse, writing about it fourteen years later?

So briefly, Starks faces a former friend’s drug addiction, Starks’ actions years prior causing the downfall. That’s the confrontation First Snow leads to, and the one driving this story in the background. Authorities won’t help. No one will, depicting a fragmented society where people end up on the edge and alone, but no one to support them. First Snow is a layered tragedy, where people only live in the past, letting those events direct their lives. On all of First Snow’s mountain-backed highways, there’s often nothing. Just roads. They look empty, much like Starks’ own life, despite his excitable personality. Maybe the problem is he has too much time to think, which isn’t living.

Video

MVD brings First Snow to Blu-ray as part of their Marquee Collection. As First Snow begins, the color pushes warmth, giving flesh tones a burnt quality. Soon, the intent appears – as things unravel (and nearer winter) out goes the orange push, turning to blue. The temperature is set in the story, much as it is visually, which this disc makes apparent.

Well encoded grain remains stable for the full runtime. That preservation keeps detail steady, resolving close-ups and scenery. Medium shots contain equal fidelity, and while not the absolute sharpest, it’s reasonable enough for what is likely an older master pulled off the shelf.

Black levels exist in a softer aesthetic. They never reach their deepest potential, if still giving visuals depth. Contrast is weaker too, impacted by the changing color grades, steering brightness toward more orange/blue hues than pure white.

Audio

Only Dolby Digital; to note yes, it is 2020, and compressed audio is sticking around on Blu-ray. Here though, that’s generally minor. First Snow presents a lot of open air ambiance and cars/trucks passing through the soundfield, but nothing notably dynamic.

All dialog sticks in the center, balanced and hardly encountering any challenges in range. Other than a moment or two in the score, bass isn’t utilized.

Extras

EPK interviews/featurettes, along with seven minutes of raw footage taken from the set. The latter is great. A few trailers land at the far right side of the home menu.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

First Snow
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Guy Pearce takes over First Snow to contemplate life and mistakes, but it’s not engaging to actually watch.

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