Connect with us
<em>Never Gonna Snow Again</em> is Małgorzata Szumowska's strange follow-up to <em>Mug</em>. Here's why we weren't impressed.

Film

‘Never Gonna Snow Again’ Fails to Sustain Itself Through Vibes Alone

Never Gonna Snow Again is Małgorzata Szumowska’s strange follow-up to Mug. Here’s why we weren’t impressed.

London Film Festival 2020

A black comedy with a twist of the surreal, Never Gonna Snow Again sees Polish-auteur Małgorzata Szumowska (co-directing with Michał Englert) expanding her cinematic palette to a strange effect. Telling the story of a Ukrainian immigrant masseuse named Zhenia (Alec Utgoff) who touches, both metaphorically and literally, upon the lives of a gated middle-class community in Poland, this is an oddball story that never presses deep enough.

Szumowska establishes a strange, magical surrealist vibe from the off, with the immigrant Zhenia managing to hypnotize a government bureaucrat through the power of the Russian-language alone. He is a talented masseuse, easily able to become part of the resident’s lives. Still bearing the scars of a childhood spent in Pripyat, where he survived the horrors of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, one cannot tell if he is merely very good at what he does, or has somehow been imbued with semi-magical powers.

The British-Ukranian actor Utgoff — who you may recognize as the Russian heavy from Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit — does a great job of playing the enigmatic western-film-like outsider, suggesting a lot through physicality, but keeping schtum on his personal background. He is right to be a little wary: while Poland imports thousands of Ukrainian immigrants to fill the gaps of their own depleting workforce, prejudice against outsiders is still rife; shown here by one racist throwaway comment. His use of the Russian language to hypnotize Polish residents suggests that the residue of Chernobyl — a disaster resulting from Soviet incompetence — still leaves an imprint upon the rest of Europe, a fascinating idea that remains frustratingly unfulfilled.

 While Szumowska’s previous film Mug was filled with high-energy and lacerating satire, Never Gonna Snow Again is a far more muted affair. The cinematography makes use of saturated colours, the blue-ish fall-setting constantly on the precipice of snowfall. We are told, as the title pronounces, that the chances of snow are becoming less with every year, the film connecting the disaster of Chernobyl — hinted through enigmatic flashbacks — with today’s climate crisis. What it all amounts to, I haven’t the slightest clue. 

Without a central conflict, it’s hard to sustain a film through vibes alone. If audiences can’t quite connect with what you are trying to do, it helps to throw in some kind of plot to further illuminate these themes. Szumowska is far more interested in portraiture than narrative, using Zhenia’s travelling occupation as a means to draw out the intricacies and oddities of the neighborhood. While her ability to create distinctive characters — from a stressed-out mother to an old angry military man, to the other Ukrainian working as a security guard, to a middle-aged dog lover — is well done, it’s a shame they can’t be corralled into something that really speaks to contemporary anxieties. Often swinging into sitcom territory, with comic yet not particularly humorous fantasy sequences, it remains a hard film to connect with. While mileage may vary depending on your connection to Poland or Ukraine,  Szumowska can’t quite translate her specific ideas into universal concerns. 

Never Gonna Snow Again plays as part of the London Film Festival, running from 7 -18 October. Learn more via their website.

Written By

As far back as he can remember, Redmond Bacon always wanted to be a film critic. To him, being a film critic was better than being President of the United States

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook

Trending

‘Trigger Warning’ Review: Supersoldier Jessica Alba Wages War on Domestic Criminals in Slick but Contrived Melodrama

Film

Tony Lo Bianco Cause of Death: The French Connection Actor Passes on at 87!

Celebrity

Kate Bosworth and Justin Long Relationship Timeline: How Long Have They Been Married? 

Celebrity

Willie Mays Cause of Death: How Did the Baseball Legend and Hall of Famer Die?

Celebrity

Marc Summers and Alice Filous 50th Anniversary! Celebrating 50 Decades of Love!

Celebrity

Ian McKellen Hospitalized After Stage Fall: Ian Fell During Performance in London!

Celebrity

Who Is Henry Cavill’s Girlfriend? Discover the Wife of a Famous British Actor!

Celebrity

Who Is Molly Ringwald’s Husband? Panio Gianopoulos Love for the American Actress! 

Comics

Quavo Joined by Vice President Kamala Harris at Anti-Gun Violence Event Declaring ‘Takeoff Day’ in Atlanta

Celebrity

Ariana DeBose Tony Awards Entourage: Sings and Dances for During Tony Awards 2024 Kick-off!

Celebrity

Tory Lanez and Raina Chassagne Divorce: Raina Chassagne Files Suit After Husband’s 10-Year Prison Sentence!

Celebrity

Jude Law’s Children: How Many Children Does the Famous English Actor Have?

Celebrity

Celine Dion Cries at N.Y.C Documentary Premiere: Dion Receives Standing Ovation, Thanks Her Children!

Celebrity

Who Is Anthony Michael Hall’s Wife? The Truth About the Famous American Actor’s Wife!

Celebrity

Celine Dion Took Potentially Fatal Dosages of Valium to Cope With Symptoms of Stiff Person Syndrome: ‘I Did Not Know Honestly That It Could Kill Me’

Celebrity

Who is Miranda Lambert? All About America’s Famous Country Singer, Songwriter

Celebrity

Connect