SNOW ANGELS — ** — Michael Angarano, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell; rated R (profanity, violence, sex, drugs, vulgarity, brief gore)
Brrr! "Snow Angels" is set during a snowy winter and never really warms up appreciably.
As a result, it's hard to feel anything but frosty sentiments towards this melodrama, a rather chilly adaptation of Stewart O'Nan's well-regarded novel.
Also, while the movie is well-acted, it features mostly unlikable characters and has some unappealing situations that will turn off many audiences.
Much of screenwriter/director David Gordon Green's tale is seen mostly through the eyes of Arthur Parkinson (Michael Angarano), an average high school student.
There's strife between his parents (Jeanetta Arnette and Griffin Dunne), who are on the verge of splitting up. But their squabbles are nothing compared to those between Arthur's co-worker, Annie Marchand (Kate Beckinsale), and her estranged husband, Glenn (Sam Rockwell).
He's becoming increasingly unhinged as Annie refuses to let him spend quality time with their young daughter, Tara (Gracie Hudson). And their marital friction only worsens when he discovers she's carrying on an affair with a married man, Nate Petite (Nicky Katt).
There's a tragic feel to most of the movie. In fact, the only really joyous moments are those shared by Arthur and a classmate, the sweet Lila (Olivia Thirlby from "Juno"). Their budding, fumbling romance is utterly charming.
Unfortunately, Green would rather concentrate on patronizing commentary about Middle America and casting aspersions on born-again Christians.
Still, there's no faulting the performers, who are all very good. But even they can't convince us why we really want to be watching these unpleasant characters and situations.
"Snow Angels" is rated R for strong sexual language (profanity, vulgar slang and other suggestive references), some disturbing violent acts (fisticuffs, gunplay, vehicular mayhem, child-in-peril elements and some violence against women), brief simulated sex (some of between teens), drug content (marijuana use and references), and brief gore and blood. Running time: 106 minutes.