NewsReview ‘Never Gonna Snow Again’
The Guru and the Rich
With Never Gonna Snow Again (2020), director Malgorzata Szumowska and co-director Michal Englert envision us a satire, a fairy tale or a serious drama? Both the film and the main character remain elusive. Yet they manage to hold the viewer’s attention in a film full of symbolism and metaphors.
Zhenia (Alec Utgoff) is a Ukrainian immigrant who, with his massage table folded, walks every week into a Polish neighborhood full of immaculate white villas where he massages the wealthy residents. The often unhappy and dissatisfied residents see in him the man who massages away their problems and suffering. With his hands he also literally takes away the suffering and pain. With his angelic appearance, his Russian accent and his calm demeanor, he is quickly adored. Even for hypnosis, he does not turn his hand around. When he puts them under hypnosis, we see in images where they are at that moment. At the end of the day, he goes back to his own shabby shelter. What a contrast. He is more or less the conscience of the neighborhood because he knows and sees more than the rest of the inhabitants. At the same time, he struggles with his own fears. Through flashbacks and dreams we see him at a young age at the time of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl. Unfortunately, his mother did not survive the disaster.
The film’s title partly refers to a metaphor for the nuclear dust that descended on Chernobyl, which Zhenia mistook for snow at the age of seven. And at the end of the film is a reference to the climate crisis, which predicts that the last snow will fall in Europe in 2025.
Szumowska previously made the horror film The Other Lamb (2019) and the comedies Mug (2018) and Body (2015). She is currently working on her first English-language production. That will be the movie Infinite Storm with Naomi Watts and Sophie Okonedo. Despite being born in Ukraine, Utgoff is a British actor as he moved to the UK at a young age. He starred in Stranger Things (2016– ) and the films Our Kind of Traitor (2016), San Andreas (2015) and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015).
hope gives life
Director Szumowska is careful not to ridicule the film too much, so all characters remain believable. We see, for example, an unhappy housewife with an absent husband but with a child present, a woman who lives only for her dogs, a former soldier who terrorizes the neighborhood and a woman who after the death of her husband seeks affection from Zhenia. She presents us with a repetitive film that works extremely well because the film is largely set in one location. The almost identical villas are the setting but it never gets boring because the characters and the events are captivating enough. When all hope seems gone by the end of the film, it suddenly starts snowing again. Never Gonna Snow Again is definitely recommended for those who love quiet cinema. And if not, it’s always worth a try. You certainly won’t regret it. The film was also the Polish entry for the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Beeld: Still ‘Never Gonna Snow Again’ via Filmdepot
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