Snakes & Ladders

Director: Trish McAdam
Screenwriters: Trish McAdam

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


Trish McAdam’s debut feature centers around two women roommates in their thirties who eke out a living as street performers in Dublin. While waiting for the big break (acceptance at the Edinburgh Festival), their partnership suffers a major rupture when Jean suddenly cancels her wedding and splits from her long-term boyfriend, and then accepts a job as an on-air commentator/host at a television station. Her ex-partner Kate finds mutual consolation with the jilted boyfriend, a situation that gains complexity when she discovers that the evening’s drunken tryst has left her pregnant. When Jean’s affair with a younger producer plays itself out, and she is moved to reconcile first with her soul mate and then with her lover, the web of deceit and dependence grows denser.

Although Snakes & Ladders is a tale full of charm and humor, it is also a cynical and very true-to-life portrait of the decisions and “passages” of midlife. McAdam displays a real gift for direction, extracting fine performances from her leads as well as a host of secondary characters. And her screenplay is a nuanced, playful, and perceptive vision of fate and life’s ironies.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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