Sigourney Weaver plays an autistic woman unable to grieve normally for her dead daughter in British-Canadian co-production Snow Cake. It sounds utterly depressing but in fact this film by Welsh helmer Marc Evans boasts "a delicious mix of cool humour and heart-warming drama". It even melted critics' hearts, but was lost in a flurry of bigger budgeted (better marketed) films on its initial release.
Breaking The Ice
Evans talks about the "testing" experience of trying to get the project funded in a wide-ranging 'Making Of' featurette. Sigourney Weaver and co-stars Alan Rickman and Carrie-Anne Moss explain why they stuck with the project through thick and thin. And it always comes down to the script by Angela Pell. Weaver insists that it's strength is in "some real truth about a rather rare subject", ie adults living with autism. She goes on to reveal how she prepared to play Linda by living with an autistic woman for a short spell and absorbing her behaviours. When it came to his research, Rickman says, "I have deliberately done none" - instead trying to preserve a sense of bewilderment to play Alex.
Between the interviews, there's a sprinkling of behind-the-scenes footage revealing the technical challenges faced by Evans and his crew. Most stressful of all, they were thrown by unusually warm weather in Ontario, Canada where the story is set. That meant having to cart in snow from surrounding regions!
Slicing The Cake
Emily Hampshire, who delivered a charming performance as Linda's daughter, gets to share a few more cheeky moments with Rickman among 10 deleted scenes. Of course the funnier moments mostly involve the grating interplay between Weaver and Rickman, eg Linda scouring her mattress for "bed bugs" after Alex advises her, rhetorically, not to let them bite. There is no director's commentary but with some scenes, it's obvious why they ended up on the cutting room floor. For instance, Linda is handed a microphone and asked to be the supermarket 'greeter' despite her obvious lack of 'people skills'. While it is amusing as a standalone scene, it rings false within the context of the story.
With so much care and attention paid to serving the characters well, Evans really deserved a bigger audience at the cinema. For the many people who did miss out the first time around, Snow Cake will prove an unexpected treat on DVD.
Snow Cake DVD is released on Monday, 5th February 2007.