Review: ‘Snow Lion Position’

Mary Jimenez's search for the "art of dying" becomes a yawningly naive, disquisition in "Snow Lion Position."

Mary Jimenez’s search for the “art of dying” becomes a yawningly naive, touchy-feely disquisition on the well-established stages of death in “Snow Lion Position.” Largely shooting in a hospice, Jimenez acts like Eve on first discovering death exists: Her fatuous statements and creepy attempts to emulate the dying could only come from someone who never contemplated the end before. Annoying rather than revelatory, this docu has little hope of even fest play, notwithstanding involvement of the Dardenne brothers as producers.

Awkward title, taken from the Buddhist belief in the body’s optimum position for expiring, works better in French but still carries a whiff of preciousness. Jimenez spends time talking to hospice patients about death, though her maddening need to insert herself into everything means her own journey of discovery takes centerstage. Genuinely touching cases, like sad-eyed Romanian Laura, her body deformed from cancer, become opportunities for Jimenez to broadcast her empathy, while shots of friend Virginie giving birth are presumably included to complete the life-cycle but feel especially gratuitous. Profligate with her edits, camera swoops and freeze frames, Jimenez overdramatizes everything, from deliberately out-of-focus shots to dissonant strings.

Snow Lion Position



A CBA, Derives, RTBF production. Produced by Karine de Villers, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne. Directed, written, edited by Mary Jimenez.


Camera (color, Beta SP), Jorge Leon; music, George Van Dam. Reviewed at Rome Film Festival (Extra), Oct. 24, 2007. French, Flemish dialogue. Running time: 89 MIN.
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