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Despite the Falling Snow starring Rebecca Ferguson: My take on the movie

Despite the Falling Snow starring Rebecca Ferguson doesn’t have a US release date yet but it opened the L.A. Womens Film Festival last night. I’ve been antsy to see this movie ever since reading the book by Shamim Sarif a few months back. Sarif also wrote and directed the film so I was surprised at a couple of changes from the book. That’s the thing about movies though, they really are different from books and do demand different approaches.

Fans of Rebecca Ferguson should be pleased. The up and coming star—a standout in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation—is on screen for most of the movie, playing both Katya, the Cold War spy, in 1949, and her look-alike niece Lauren in the 1992 storyline. As she did in Rogue Nation, Ferguson lights up the screen and I’m looking forward more than ever to see what’s next for the charismatic actress. She’s currently filming The Snowman with Michael Fassbender, based on Jo Nesbø’s crime thriller. The Girl on the Train with Emily Blunt & Florence Foster Jenkins with Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant are in the can. Life with Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal is in pre-production. 

I was disappointed that Charles Dance played a smaller role than the part his character played in the novel. On paper, the older Alexander is key, his character exciting as the hugely successful chef who heads a successful food empire much like Wolfgang Puck. Contemplating the sale of his business he finds himself drawn to the mother of his chief potential buyer—a bright young woman who becomes the love interest for his niece, Lauren— all while Lauren’s interest in her aunt, sends him spiraling back to the past. I was looking forward to seeing tall, handsome Dance whip up magic in the kitchen. And I was looking forward to the romance between the older pair. But that’s my older women’s bias. I can see that subplot would be a bit too convoluted a story to tell onscreen.

Instead, the lesbian love affair between Lauren and her uncle’s potential buyer—except now the buyer is a Russian journalist—is intensified in the film, replacing the old fuddy-duddy romance stuff today’s young audiences could care less about. In her scenes with costar Antje Traue as Marina, the newly-created journalist character, Ferguson crackles there too, the chemistry between the two believable and compelling. It was interesting to see a lesbian relationship within the confines of a mainstream movie, such a rarity that for me that it highlights how difficult it must be for LGBT audiences that their life experiences are so often left out of the media that mainstream audiences consume. 

Sam Reid (First Wives Club) is fine as the stalwart young Alexander. It’s a victory that he can share the screen with Ferguson without being eclipsed while Oliver Jackson-Cohen as the young Misha has no such problem. He’s magnetic and alive, incredibly watchable. One Brit show I’ve succeeded in avoiding is Mr. Selfridge; knowing Jackson-Cohen was in the cast may lure me to binge-stream it.

Cinematography was by David Johnson, the film looked beautiful, the falling snow casting a bit of magic. The music by Rachel Portman (Chocolat, Cider House Rules, One Day) perhaps a bit too heavy-handed with its themes of espionage and Russian overtones. 

For Rebecca Ferguson fans—and new Oliver Jackson-Cohen fans— Despite the Falling Snow is a must-see. Opening April 15th in the UK, no release date here in the US yet.

Have a gander at the trailer