Despite the Falling Snow – Review

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail 0

There’s undoubtedly a sense of authenticity when an author adapts their own work for the silver screen – a deep understanding of the texture of the novel, which can be hugely beneficial to the project at hand. But often a feature needs a fresh approach, a unique eye to bring their own take, which has proven to be the case with Despite the Falling Snow, as the original author of the 2004 novel, Shamim Sarif, is not only on screenwriting duty, but is also the director of this distinctly underwhelming piece of cinema, that has not done justice to the layered narrative.

Set, primarily, in Moscow during the Cold War in the 1950s, we meet Alexander (Sam Reid), fleeing the country to set off to America, with only one thing on his mind: the well-being of his wife, Katya (Rebecca Ferguson). Fast forward a few decades and we meet up with the man again, now living in New York (and portrayed by Charles Dance), who still longs for the love of his life, who he never encountered again. His niece Lauren (also played by Ferguson) is determined to unravel the mystery surrounding her elusive aunt, and so sets off to Moscow to do some investigating, which is where she learns that Katya was a spy for the Americans, and before falling in love with Alexander, was assigned with the unwanted task of stealing the government worker’s key information.

Recommended:  Abigail Review

Though Sarif must be commended for the clever means of structuring this tale, as we move seamlessly between 50s Moscow and 90s New York, the latter segments seem superfluous, and perhaps a more traditional, chronological narrative would have been beneficial for this big-screen adaptation. The flashbacks are so much more intriguing, it always feels frustrating when we deviate away from them. The parallels drawn between the eras are contrived in their execution too, none more so than casting Ferguson to play both Katya and Lauren, making it something of a challenge to suspend our disbelief. That’s by no means helped along by the staged nature of this picture and the stilted dialogue, which is more akin to an episode of Neighbours than a contemporary piece of cinema – as the striking, intriguing narrative is cheapened by the presentation, and the way this story has been told, as we never once transcend the expectations of the genre at hand.

Needless to say, the Swedish actress remains the very best thing about this picture, particularly when embodying Katya – where she earns the viewer’s respect and empathy, in spite of her actions – and this is completely essential, for without that element this picture really would be a disaster.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail 0
This entry was posted in Reviews and tagged , , on by .

About Stefan Pape

Stefan Pape is a film critic and interviewer who spends most of his time in dark rooms, sipping on filter coffee and becoming perilously embroiled in the lives of others. He adores the work of Billy Wilder and Woody Allen, and won’t have a bad word said against Paul Giamatti.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.