Danny hesitates to join this circle of haves even after Natasha’s prodding, knowing he would be an outsider of sorts. Of course, the formula is inverted here: you’d think Danny, who has tasted failure and humility, would be a bit more worldly than them. And while Natasha’s friends give off a slight William Zabka-quality, they also sponsor the Deep Powder Alpine Country Club, a secret society of the very wealthy who bankroll a trip to Ecuador to score the finest china white rich kids can buy. A lottery selects Natasha as the recipient of this year’s plane ticket, and grumbling and complaints ensue when she reaches outside of her circle to take Danny along with her.
The film is peppered with what usually comes across as an obnoxious framing device: the videotaped interviews and confessions from the other members of the Deep Powder Alpine Country Club, long after a coming and inevitable tragedy. The film goes the “Star 80” route in employing the actors to recreate these interviews, which helps eliminate the potential of awkward dissonance between a terrible true story and the sexy, possibly inaccurate one onscreen. As the interviews proceed, it becomes clear that the members of the club are protecting their own, demonizing Danny for his role as some sort of mastermind of the entire plan despite what we see is the opposite.
The predictability of “Deep Powder” ’s real-life narrative depends greatly on just how much faith you have in humanity. As unofficial as it may be, the Deep Powder Alpine Country Club is an institution, housed under a prep school, an even more overwhelming organization. Like protects like, and we’ve read this in the newspapers all the time: the fall guy tends to be of a lower social strata than the ones who wash their hands of their own mistakes in plain view. The story is compelling, even if some of the details don’t ring true – John Magaro’s Buscemi-esque salt-of-the-earth best buddy feels like a movie contrivance – but the denouement doesn't feel like the collapse of an institution as much as good guys versus bad guys. Fernandez's Danny is simply too principled, and too good: his siblings are adorable, his hard-luck widowed mother is too caring. Without knowing the details of the true story, it very much seems a bit too David and Goliath. If you're too busy over-emphasizing that size-difference, the drama just gets lost. [B-]