Canadian filmmaker Ryan Noth has worked as a writer, editor, producer, co-director (of the 2010 rom-com No Heart Feelings) and documentary director, including on the award-winning National Parks Project, which combined Canadian musicians with the beauty of our country’s federal parklands.
And so Drifting Snow is both a departure and a continuation. It’s his feature solo directing debut, but also the culmination of a long time spent working on various facets of film.
It’s also an ambitious tale, telling the story of two strangers, Joanne and Chris (Sonja Smits, Jonas Bonnetta), who collide on a wintry backcountry road in Ontario’s Prince Edward County. It’s a literal collision, but a glancing one. No one is hurt, and both admit their night-driving eyesight could be better. Joanne offers Chris a lift while they sort out what to do next.
The subsequent road trip allows us to learn more about both characters, both at very different junctures in their lives. Chris, who has recently lost his mother, has decided to move to the country for a quieter life filled with jigsaw puzzles and home cooking. (No, Drifting Snow was not shot during the pandemic – it just feels that way.) Joanne, meanwhile, is grieving the loss of her husband, played by Colin Mochrie, whom I will gladly watch perform as anything, even a ghost.
So come for the plot but stay for the scenery, which is where Drifting Snow truly shines. Tess Girard’s wonderful cinematography reminded me of the work of Quebec director Denis Côté, and there’s a similar sense of wistfulness as one often finds in his work. From its lonely roads to its flourishing bird population, the county never looked better, even in the dead of winter.
Drifting Snow is available May 11 on demand.
3.5 stars out of 5