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WOLVES IN THE SNOW

Directed by Michael Welterlin
  • YEAR 2 - FILM 8 / 
  • Canada / 
  • 2002 / 
  • French with English subtitles / 
  • 95 min
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"With Wolves in the Snow, Michel Welterlin has become one of my favorite directors. His film is a tense, noir-like thriller in three languages that has more twists than a Hungarian contortionist."
– Doug Brunell, Film Theatre

Synopsis

Wolves in the Snow begins with the news that Antoine has been cuckolding Lucie for years. A violent marital argument ensues resulting in Antoine's death. After lying about Antoine's whereabouts, Lucie discovers his secret life of gangsters, money laundering and violence. Followed, threatened and badgered by the gangsters, Lucie becomes trapped by her deceit. The body of Antoine disappears, other corpses appear, and the money, very quickly, becomes only the pretext of an alarming turn of events, in which Lucie learns how to lie, to live, and perhaps also to like. Wolves in the Snow is an intense drama set against the backdrop of Montreal.

Editorial Reviews

April 16, 2005

By Doug Brunell

With "Wolves in the Snow," Michel Welterlin has become one of my favorite directors. His film is a tense, noir-like thriller in three languages (French, English and Italian) that has more twists than a Hungarian contortionist.

The plot starts out simple enough. Antoine (Antoine Lacomblez) admits to his wife, Lucie (played by the incredibly talented Marie Jose Croze), that he has been cheating on her with a woman from his office. Lucie kills him, and then things get out of control as men start showing up demanding the money Antoine supposedly stole from them. One of the men, Ruben (Jean Philippe Ecoffey), knows Lucie killed her husband, and he plans to use that information to help her get out of the situation alive ... maybe. Lucie can trust no one, however, including the suave "exterminator" Marco (Roman Orzari), who hates Ruben and has taken a fancy to a woman he may ultimately have to kill.

Once you start watching this film, you cannot stop. It is impossible to look away. Croze plays her character perfectly, and all the other actors rise to her level of skill. It's almost as if this were the role she was born to play.

The other actors, particularly Orzari and Ecoffey, are just as believable and, in an unusual turn for a thriller, three-dimensional with actual emotions and weaknesses. It's those little touches that make what could have been a standard film become a great movie.

It should also be noted that this film is number eight of the second volume of the Film Movement series. This is a service you can subscribe to where independent films show up in your mailbox on a regular basis. That's a great idea for film fans, and is definitely worth checking out. At the very least, give "Wolves in the Snow" a chance. It's a film you owe it to yourself to see.

--Doug Brunell/ Film Threat - Review

April 26, 2005

By Don Houston

Wolves in the Snow begins with the news that Antoine has been cuckolding Lucie for years. A violent marital argument ensues resulting in Antoine's death. After lying about Antoine's whereabouts, Lucie discovers his secret life of gangsters, money laundering and violence. Followed, threatened and badgered by the gangsters, Lucie becomes trapped by her deceit. The body of Antoine disappears, other corpses appear, and the money, very quickly, becomes only the pretext of an alarming turn of events, in which Lucie learns how to lie, to live, and perhaps also to like. Wolves in the Snow is an intense drama set against the backdrop of Montreal."

Lucie is the typically vacant-minded housewife, browbeaten for years by Antoine. You pick that up almost immediately by the multitude of details woven into the sets, the script, and the background of the situation as much as by the argument the couple has so early in the film. Out of sheer anger, she kills him but regrets her decision like so many protagonists before her. She doesn't want to go to jail but she also doesn't want to report him missing, something that would lead to her act being discovered. Her choices become limited fairly quickly when a couple of crooks threaten her in regards to her husband. Apparently, he had been laundering money for them and like most such crooks, skimmed a little off the top before getting greedy. The short of it is that they want their money and he appears to have skipped town so they'll take their pound of flesh out of her, the mistress, or anyone else that gets in their way. Terrified at the prospect of being raped, beaten, and eventually killed, she lies and builds a web of deceit that all of us (as impassionate observers) know will have deadly consequences.

Okay, I don't want to reveal a lot of spoilers so that's as much as I'll say about the specifics of the movie. The character of Lucie was more complex than most than the film noir genre this movie seems to pay tribute to and that complexity allows the viewer to read a lot into what she does. The manner in which she and criminal Ruben both try to play one another made the story a notch above the average suspense drama. While I was almost certain of the outcome that never happened, I enjoyed the manner in which director Michael Welterlin weaved the elements of the story into a tight knit story (appearing to be substantially influenced by the Coen Brothers). Lucie's flaws made the story far more interesting than if it had been played more contemporarily and Welterlin uses those flaws to examine the soul of those that would disregard the time tested laws of consequence. In short, she pays the price for her deceit even though she did not initially know about the money. I usually prefer the glossed over characters that movies portray as having no significant flaws but that's an escapist fantasy many of us share so Lucie (and the others) added a dimension of realness missing elsewhere.

The story was not without flaws though and I only wish more effort went into polishing it up by the edgy manner in which the story was unveiled certainly gave me pause (not to mention adding replay value). This isn't the type of movie you'll find at Blockbuster or Hollywood Video but it had enough merit to allow me to give it a rating of Recommended for all it's minor flaws in the story telling process and I look forward to seeing what director Welterlin comes up with next. While not as strong as the usual Film Movement release, for me at least (keep in mind that I'm not usually a thriller buff), I think they chose well here in an effort to get the movie released (something the big production companies tend not to do unless the characters are all sweethearts, raving psychopaths, or if the story is a rollercoaster ride full of one dimensional characters).

Pi

--Don Houston/ DVD Talk - Review

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WOLVES IN THE SNOW Movie Photo
Marie-Josée Croze and Jean Philippe Ecoffey in Wolves in the Snow
WOLVES IN THE SNOW Movie Photo
Romano Orzari in Wolves in the Snow
WOLVES IN THE SNOW Movie Photo
Jean Philippe Ecoffey in Wolves in the Snow
WOLVES IN THE SNOW Movie Photo
Marie-Josée Croze in Wolves in the Snow
WOLVES IN THE SNOW Movie Photo
Jean Philippe Ecoffey and Marie-Josée Croze in Wolves in the Snow
WOLVES IN THE SNOW Movie Photo
Romano Orzari and Marie-Josée Croze in Wolves in the Snow
WOLVES IN THE SNOW Movie Photo
Wolves in the Snow poster (hi res)
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