Steven Michael Quezada
FIRST SNOW manages to prove this wrong. It's billed as a thriller, but it's really more of a contemplative drama, dealing with fate vs. free will in a simple but effective manner.
Guy Pearce plays against type as a glib, mealy-mouthed salesman, and he's the anchor that holds the film together. While eventually the questions of, "How will this man die?" and, "Can he prevent it?" slowly dissipate into, "Do you even really care?" Pearce's presence is enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen. His character clearly starts out as an unlikable one-note entity, but through the actor's natural charm, as well as the subtle nuances in the script/direction, he evolves into an individual worthy of your interest. Even with the support he gets from the other cast members, this is Pearce's show all the way.
At times, FIRST SNOW becomes slightly too reminiscent of MEMENTO (not just because of its lead actor, but some of the stylistic choices and themes as well), which is the type of comparison no film wants to live up to. No matter, though. This picture has its own set of minor but rewarding charms, and it's grounded by an impressive cast, confident direction, well-realized cinematography, and surprisingly strong production values. It does have some flaws (like the rather perfunctory resolution), but those are forgivable blemishes in what's otherwise an interesting viewing experience.