Snow Cake: Sigourney Weaver Stoops to Disease-of-Week Movie

In the kooky little Canadian town of Wawa, whose chief selling point is a 30-foot statue of a goose, a stranger knocks on the door of an autistic woman to break the news that her daughter was killed while hitching a ride in his car. So begins an awkward pairing of mutual emotional benefit between Linda (a no-frills, no-makeup Sigourney Weaver), who responds to the bad news by munching snow and focusing on shiny ornaments, and Alex, a taciturn fellow (Alan Rickman, who else?) whose spirit has been all but snuffed out by past trauma. My schmaltz meter invariably vibrates in the presence of movies about the supposedly mentally ill healing the supposedly normal: Sure, we're all human, but there's a meaningful line to be drawn between the well and the ill, even in the case of spectrum autism. Marc Evans' indie drama, from a script by Angela Pell (who has an autistic son), keeps sidling up to the brink of mawkishness but then pulls back so nicely into Weaver's rich, hardheaded evocation of Linda's limitations that one forgives the eye-popping speed with which Alex, grieving for two people he's never known, re-enters the human race and falls for Carrie-Anne Moss.

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