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Film Review: “Snapshots” (2018) ★★★★

Posted on March 17, 2018 in Movie Reviews // 0 Comments

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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The life is full of mysteries. Every day may bring new, amazing revelations, most unexpected surprises, and, at times, some very unpleasant things. However, no matter what, for every individual, these experiences are unique and bring changes that only destiny has predicted for them. And that’s what sets the story of “Snapshots” by Melanie Mayron.

It is a bright summer day. Rose is at the lake house, where she finds herself revisiting the memory of her past. She remembers her lost love trying to find redemption through her grown-up daughter Patty and granddaughter Allison. As it turns out, Allison has a secret to hide, which is most certainly in power to change her future. As the past arrives without an invitation, these three women from different generations will have to find a way to console each other through the understanding and empathy which, at times, they have been quite greedy to share with one another.

Set in two different timelines, the film takes us back to 1960’s, where Rose (Piper Laurie) and her husband Joe Muller (Max Adler) are sure the happiness they share and cherish so much shall be permanent. On a hot summer day, out of blue two people enter their life – Louise (Emily Goss) and Zee (Brett Dier). They are to bring a hit that young Rose will not know how to handle. Louise immediately falls for shy Rose. Although Rose struggles to resist Louise’s attraction and tries to eliminate her presence in her life, in the end, she allows herself to go through this unimaginable dream. She enters this tender relationship, which is an uncompromised and sensual experience that she will carry with her for the rest of her life.

In the meantime, Allison (Emily Baldoni) learns that she is pregnant with Marc’s child, but their relationship seems to be facing a crisis. Afraid of being judged, Allison tries not to reveal her dark secret to anyone. In the course of the next couple days, she will learn to listen to herself, her mother Patty and her sweet grandma Rose, who is an amazingly open-minded and supportive person. But more importantly, she will soon have to make the most important journey down the memory lane to share what hurts most and through that pain find a cure to heal some wounds which are worse than a bleeding heart.

Written by Jan Miller Corran and directed by Melanie Mayron, “Snapshots” is an amazingly beautiful film about love, understanding, taking risks and living the life to the fullest. It is about family values that cannot be taken for granted. Through Mayron’s film, the viewer is invited to witness the power of memory that cannot be damaged even by the dust of time. Beautifully acted, the subtle and sensual relationship between Rose and Louise, as well as the mother-and-daughter relationships, turn this film into a heart-warming, profound and genuine piece of art, that is highly recommended to be seen by anyone who enjoys watching good indie dramas.

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by Paul Parcellin

 

When women from three generations of a family spend time together at a lakeside retreat, the eldest, Rose (Piper Laurie), an 85-year-old grandmother is flooded with memories. It’s not just the surroundings, the spot where she and other family members have been summering for decades, that unleash a tide of recollections. Mother-daughter tensions between her granddaughter Allison (Emily Baldoni) and Rose’s daughter Patty (Brooke Adams) remind the senior member of the family of earlier times. The early ’60s, when she was a newlywed, vacationing at the lake with her husband are filled with bittersweet memories. As the film proceeds, we travel back in time as a younger Rose (Shannon Collis) meets Louise (Emily Goss), a redheaded free spirit who rents a cabin nearby with her husband, Zee (Brett Dier).

“…Rose and Louise became secret lovers and carried on an affair over the course of four years.”

Roses memories of nearly six decades earlier begin to flood back as she learns about Allison’s less than happy domestic life. She’s pregnant and deciding what to do about it. Meanwhile, Allison and Patty are at loggerheads, partly due to Patty’s excessive drinking.

The crux of the story is that Rose and Louise became secret lovers and carried on an affair over the course of four years. Rose’s husband, Joe (Max Adler) is a nice enough guy, however, Rose remembers Louise as the love of her life. Ultimately, Rose and Louise’s affair ended when feelings of guilt and societal pressures became oppressive, not because they fell out of love. It was the early 1960s, after all, and it would be a while before same-sex relationships would gain greater public acceptance.

“…invited to soak in the retro atmosphere as the story unfolds at a leisurely pace.”

Fortunately, the film avoids taking us down a predictable path and instead provides what feels like a more true to life recollection of days gone by. That may be because the movie is based on real-life events. Writer and producer Jan Miller Corran says that in making the film, she decided to go public with an old family secret. It’s apparent throughout that this is a true labor of love. 

Performances all around are strong, with Piper Laurie’s Rose taking the lead and directing us through the story’s narrative. The action shifts back and forth between the present and the 1960s, and we are invited to soak in the retro atmosphere as the story unfolds at a leisurely pace. Scenes set in the past are punctuated with photos that Louise takes with an old box camera, thus the film’s title.

In the end, the three women come to terms with their differences as they become closer. Each comes away understanding the others a little better, and so do we.

Snapshots (2018) Directed by Melanie Mayron. Written by Jan Miller Corran, Katherine Cortez. Starring Brooke Adams, Piper Laurie, Brett Dier, Emily Baldoni, Max Adler, Cathy DeBuono, Emily Goss, Louise Baxter, Shannon Collis, Christopher McVay, Shana Sarin.

 

 

BFI Flare review of Snapshots 

The relationship between 3 generations of women means that this film will attract a wide audience and speak to many women. This is definitely a film I want in my collection and would love to see in the cinemas with a mainstream release.

A must see for every generation. Beautiful, funny and poignant.

SYNOPSIS

Love lost. Love found. Love betrayed. When Rose’s secret past collides with her granddaughter’s secret future and her daughter’s angry present, can the love of three generations be enough to accept decades of deceit? What happens that summer of 1960 when Louise and Zee enter the lives of Rose and Joe Muller?

5 star film review of Snapshots on Planet Nation

Fifty years at a lake home in Missouri. One old camera. With the discovery of a simple roll of film it begins.

  • Director: Melanie Mayron
  • Cast: Piper Laurie, Brooke Adams, Emily Goss, Shannon Collis, Emily Baldoni, Max Adler, Brett Dier and Cathy DeBuono.
  • Producers: Jan Miller Corran and LeeAnn Matusek 
  • Screenplay: Jan Miller Corran and Katherine Cortez

USA, 2018

THE REVIEW

It is great to see stories of lesbians from the 50s and 60s on screen, and the use of flashbacks from present day ensures that this film is accessible to all generations.

Cathy DeBuono and Piper Laurie in SnapshotsIt was a pleasant surprise to see Cathy DeBuono making an appearance, a clever casting decision for a lesbian audience. I was surprised this wasn't mentioned in the BFI Flare description as it would have been an obvious pull for many.

Piper Laurie plays Rose whose life we flash back to after her granddaughter brought over a box from the loft which included some photos. It turns out to be a box of memories from Rose's Summers on the lake which spark the flash backs.

I really liked the parallels across generations, and the overlapping parallel stories that span generations. There are many comparisons to the similarities across the three women. I also liked that there were lots of positive references to therapy and to being yourself.

My favourite lines from the film that will stay with me are:

"Who she chooses to love, and whether you approve of it is absolutely nothing to do with the decision"

Rose to her daughter Patti when they are discussing Allison's pregnancy.

"Everything we did felt dangerous to me. Louise, she was just living. The only thing I taught her was how to fish. She taught me how to live. 55 years, a lifetime in a blink of an eye."

Rose to Patti and Allison when she shared her secret past.

"Live your life, no matter what the cost. Don't live somebody else's."

Rose to Allison when looking through old photos of Louise.

There is an amazing scene at the end where the three women are sitting around the fire. Gran has whiskey, Mum has wine and the daughter has beer. Even this speaks to generational shifts.

It was really poignant to me that the Mum felt like she was never good enough for Rose, and it turns out that the secret she was keeping had created a distance between them. Releasing the secret brought them closer together. Releasing the secret and being true also clearly gave Rose closure and peace.

This film has a beautiful, timeless setting which really suits the story arc. The use of positive female roles, with limited male supporting roles is a refreshing change.

THE STORY BEHIND THE FILM

SNAPSHOTS began as a play in 1990. Twenty five years later it is a screenplay. Jan Miller Corran has been producing award winning films since 1994. She has produced over twenty films.  Her first film experience was with Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter which was nominated for an Academy Award for feature documentary. Since that time, Corran has executive produced over fifteen films including AWOL with Lola Kirke and the most recent being I''ll See You in My Dreams starring Blythe Danner. A published author and playwright, Corran brings her writing skills to a film destined to be remembered for decades. 

 
 

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH JAN MILLER CORRAN,

WRITER OF SNAPSHOTS

A San Francisco Bay filmmaker, Jan Miller Corran has been producing and consulting on features, shorts and documentary film for twenty years. She is best known for I'll See You in My Dreams, AWOL, and Times Like These. SNAPSHOTS is Corran's first screenplay. SNAPSHOTS is based on a true story. It is my first screenplay, though I've consulted on other screenplays for films I've produced or on which I've consulted. I love the challenges that go along with producing, but for me, telling this beautiful story and writing SNAPSHOTS was a true labor of love. 

MovieRanker: What is your film about and what is the central message you hope to convey?

Jan Miller Corran:I love what our director Melanie Mayron wrote. "SNAPSHOTS is a film I very much wanted to see made. It spoke to me on two levels. The first is about love. The complexity of love, who we love, how we choose someone to love, how that affects the path of our lives and how that path becomes our destiny, and in the end our legacy. Our one small gigantic life amongst so many in the world. But what unites us all as humans is the experience of love. There is the time we are born into, the social mores at that time our life experience SNAPSHOTS visits the same experience into different time/spaces, fifty years apart. It is a heartbreaking and yet revelatory stop about love and time.
The second theme is about holding a secret. It takes courage and tremendous risk to reveal a secret long held, that can be incredibly hard to understand as well as hurtful." 
Can three generations of women tell each other the decades of secrets and have that deep love be strong enough to accept what they hear? When we say "love is love is love is love", is it?

MR: How long did it take you to complete from preproduction to what we will see at Cinequest?

JMC: SNAPSHOTS took eighteen months from script to screen. Though it sounds like a long time, it was quick for all of us involved.

MR: Creating a film requires many moving parts and incredible talent. Tell us about your team and cast!

JMC: I took a risk as a newbie screenwriter and asked Melanie Mayron (Thirtysomething, Jane the Virgin, Mean Girls, GLOW, and more) to read the script. When she said she wanted to direct it, I was thrilled. I asked LeeAnne Matusek to co-produce the film with me and then quite quickly the team grew. Finding our matriarch Rose was the most difficult as I had the vision of the person firmly in my mind. When Piper Laurie said "yes" I knew that we had our Rose. Rounding out the cast are Brooke Adams as the daughter, Emily Baldoni as the granddaughter, and then as we journey back to 1960 you meet Shannon Collis as Young Rose, Emily Goss as Louise, Max Adler as Joe and Brett Dier as Zee. The fabulous Cathy DeBuono has a small but standout part as Rose's neighbor. 
I especially am grateful to our Cinematographer Michael Negrin and our Editor Josh Rifkin. A special thank you to David Michael Frank, our composer who believed me when I said that to me music is another character. He delivered a very fine performer.

MR: Tell us a funny story about the production of the film (securing finance, on set shenanigans, trials, and tribulations, etc.)

JMC: We had originally planned to film in the Los Angeles area in January of 2017 and then the rains came. Then the drought hit which isn't great for a lake setting film. Instead, we filmed in June and July 2017 in daily temperatures exceeding 100-110 degrees. Between ice fed swamp coolers, an interior air conditioning system that failed on set, fans blowing on cameras to keep them from overheating and daily runs for popsicles and water, water water, the cast, and crew kept saying, "But we are making a beautiful movie!" Of course, ask Max Adler how he felt about his two-piece wool sweater set for the Christmas scene. Good sports all.

MR: What are some of the films that inspired your film and how?

JMC: As a teenager I snuck into the Ingersoll Theater in Des Moines to watch "Love is a Many Splendored Thing". The look of passion, love, loss, yearning on Jennifer Jones' face stuck with me for years as I wrote about love, loss, betrayal, and that glorious passion when soul mates come together. Whew. When people ask me what films are my favorites I immediately think of The Sterile Cuckoo, The Fox, Same Time Next Year, The Graduate, Fried Green Tomatoes, Being There, every musical made, and, yes, Piper Laurie's performance in The Hustler. Little did I think we would meet and she would be saying my words one day.

MR: Who do you hope sees your film and why?

JMC: Everyone. In truth, it is a film for anyone who has ever loved, ever experienced the ups and downs of family or didn't follow their dreams and aspirations. A young woman who came to the Bloomington Indiana screening came up to me afterward and hugged me. She said, "Thank you and Rose for making me see that I must follow my true north." If a film can make that kind of an impact then I am so glad we are bringing SNAPSHOTS to everyone.

MR: What drove you to tell this story?

JMC: I held on to the story for about twelve years. Since it revolves around what my mother told me when she was in her nineties I needed time to decide if I wanted to share parts of her life with the world. One day I realized that her story was incredibly beautiful and in ways heart-wrenching. Telling her story woven into a story of three generations and a fifty-year time span was challenging. It was also time to see where we as a nation have morally come in fifty years. The most important reason for telling this story was that my mother shared her life with me close to the day she died. I finally understood her and there was so little time to know her.

MR: What type of people will enjoy this film?

JMC: To me, any person who likes a love story has faced life-altering decisions, is a student of brilliant cinematography, has kept a secret and wishes they could share it and is willing to laugh a little and cry a little will enjoy this film. In other words, everyone of every age. 

MR: What was the biggest challenge making this film?

JMC: Financing is always the biggest challenge. A tremendous amount of time is spent looking for investors, refining a budget and trying to create the highest quality l film when you don't have a big studio funding the film. In the end, we were lucky. The moment people read the SNAPSHOTS script and knew the actors attached they wanted to take this journey with us.

MR: Which festivals is it playing at?

JMC: Our World Premiere will be at Cinequest Film Festival on March 3 with additional screenings on March 4,10 and 11. We have been at Santa Fe Film Festival, Bloomington Pride Festival, Rosebud Film Festival, Sedona International Film Festival and soon we will be at BFI: Flare in London plus The Women's Film Festival in Philadelphia. We are waiting to hear back from the other festivals to which we submitted. 

Find out all you need to know about SNAPSHOTS and Jan Miller Corran by visiting their websites and following them on Twitter at @Snapshotsmovie.

 

 

 

 

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