Despite a bit of overacting, contrived drama and some pretty clunky plot devices, Snapshots is very hard not to like. Perhaps because this is a movie starring largely women, made predominantly by women, and tackling the kind of subject matter we just don’t see enough of. It’s a lovely film about women’s relationships, family secrets and, ultimately, cross-generational understanding.
On a Hollywood studio budget, Snapshots could have been a totally different beast; maybe another slightly vacuous Amanda Seyfried/older lady buddy movie. But in Melanie Mayron’s hands it feels lovingly sincere. Snapshots’ attention to same-sex relationships, too, renders otherwise familiar techniques and trajectories urgent and fresh. Using flashbacks to detail memories of a past romance redeploys the strategy of infamous tearjerker The Notebook, yet places it in a queer context. Interestingly, they aren’t presented entirely chronologically, bringing an extra level of suspense to the narrative.
These flashback scenes are particularly entrancing, featuring some of the film’s better acting, and shedding light on the older incarnation of Rose – played by Piper Laurie in a performance imbued with wit, poise and an endearing fragility. While Laurie’s character is fully developed, that of her daughter (Brooke Adams) is woefully thin. Her painfully black and white views on sexuality and abortion are unconvincing, mere fodder for driving conflict in the plot.
With its stunning – and beautifully shot – locations, deservedly rich and complex character writing for an older woman, and an increasingly emotive performance from Emily Baldoni as Laurie’s granddaughter, Snapshots is extremely charming.
Though some of its flaws feel like rather amateur stumbles, Snapshots is clearly well-meaning and keenly felt. After establishing her career with rather safe Hollywood comedies (the regrettable Mean Girls 2, 1995’s Freaky Friday) Mayron is now finding a much more interesting niche and contributing more unique stories.
CAST: Piper Laurie, Brett Dier, Brooke Adams
DIRECTOR: Melanie Mayron
WRITERS: Jan Miller Corran, Katherine Cortez
SYNOPSIS: When a grandmother’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?