Never Gonna Snow Again, 2020.
Directed by Małgorzata Szumowska and Michał Englert.
Starring Alec Utgoff, Maja Ostaszewska, Agata Kulesza, Weronika Rosati, Katarzyna Figura, Andrzej Chyra and Łukasz Simlat.
Zhenia, a Russian-speaking immigrant from the East works as a masseur in Poland and becomes a guru-like figure in a wealthy gated community where his clients live.
Polish filmmaker Małgorzata Szumowska (In the Name of, Body and Mug) has teamed up with long-term collaborator-cinematographer Michał Englert to co-direct her intriguing and unique new film Never Gonna Snow Again, a societal commentary with a supernatural twist.
Alec Utgoff plays Zhenya, a young immigrant who was originally born near Chernobyl and seems to have developed some sort of magical powers. Working as a masseur for upper-class citizens in Poland, he’s able to use his gift to bring peace to those in need.
There is something very delicate about the way this film is presented to us. It’s wonderfully crafted and almost experiential to look at, but also very gloomy and mysterious, a juxtaposition that perfectly reflects the nature of the luxurious estate in which Zhenya’s clients live; clean and modern, but utterly soulless and without character. It’s expertly designed and visually striking, making even the simplest of moments appear far more significant.
Zhenya’s clients include a frustrated mother, a widow, and a terminally ill man, all of whom are more than accommodating to Zhenya so long as they are getting something from the exchange themselves. They represent the falsity of the very society they form a part of.
Zhenya is, after all, an immigrant. Utgoff plays him superbly; blank-faced, sure, but no less human than those he helps. He’s constantly ‘othered’ by his clients, who see him both as a fascinating person and as a stranger about whom they know nothing.
Never Gonna Snow Again is a challenging film that opens the door to a gated society, placing someone there who doesn’t belong, watching his influence and observing how things change. Thematically fascinating, its message far from lost on the viewer, one could argue that it plays its card a little too plainly, far from the curiously ambiguous puzzle it thinks it is. But its heart is in the right place, as becomes clear in its satisfying and wondrous conclusion.
This won’t be to everyone’s tastes, playing more to the arthouse crowd than the masses, but there’s something quite special about it. It plays out like a beautiful, uplifting fairy-tale, rich in style, atmospheric in nature, and unique in its takedown of the wealthiest facet of society.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★★★ / Movie: ★★