Directed by Welsh director Marc Evans (Trauma), Snow Cake is the story of Alex Hughes (Alan Rickman), a lonely man who is driving through Ontario to visit the mother of the won he never met. When the exuberant Vivienne (Emily Hampshire) talks him into giving her a lift home to Wawa, they get into a car accident and she is killed.
In shock and bereft over someone he barely knew, Alex decides to go to Wawa and talk to Vivienne’s mother. When he meets her, he finds she isn’t nearly as distraught as one would expect. But that’s because she is autistic.
Often with the feel of a stage play, Snow Cake is a delicate little drama that shows real understanding of its characters. It’s great to see Rickman (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the Harry Potter series) get to sink his teeth into something meatier than the evil villain role. And talented Canadian actress Emily Hampshire is an absolute scene stealer.
The issue of being an autistic woman with a child is, of course, the heart of the story. Sigourney Weaver (Imaginary Heroes, Alien) works very hard at the part of Linda, but she never quite gets it right. Her performance is uneven–bouncing between extremely high-functioning (sounding much like the usual Sigourney) and then lower-functioning (no eye contact, etc.). I absolutely hate to say it, but Rainman she isn’t.
There are definitely a few kooky little bits that I could do without, but mostly Snow Cake is a well done, sweet movie with an interesting, unusual premise.