In this affecting little drama, Alan Rickman plays Alex Hughes, a withdrawn, traumatized Englishman who begrudgingly gives a ride to a quirky teenaged girl while driving across the frozen plains of Canada. When a semi accidentally hits their car and the girl is killed, Hughes decides to seek out her mother, Linda (Sigourney Weaver), to offer his condolences.
Hughes quickly discovers that Linda is a high-functioning autistic woman, and spends her days transfixed by sparkly objects, playing in the snow, and shunning her neighbors. She also has a pathological fear of taking out the garbage, and thus is acutely interested in keeping Hughes around. As he settles into this unfamiliar small-town existence, the long-repressed details of Hughes’ past begin to surface.
Weaver spent more than a year preparing for the role, and her dedication pays off in an utterly convincing, nuanced performance. The slice-of-life humor is spot-on, and, without becoming preachy or obvious, the film successfully questions assumptions of normalcy and the requirements of a happy life.