July 30th, 2021
MOVIE: NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN
STARRING: ALEC UTGOFF, AGATA KULESZA, LUKASZ SIMLAT, MAJA OSTASZEWSKA
DIRECTED BY: MAŁGORZATA SZUMOWSKA, MICHAL ENGLERT
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
The films of Malgorzata Szumowska continue to depict a world that is elusive, yet towering over the people that inhabit it, projecting landscapes that engulf everything that surrounds it. On the ground, we witness the complexities of humans, incredibly flawed, with dark secrets, or living in a situation that breaks them down from the inside out. In The Other Lamb, Szumowska dived into the concept of one man leading his followers of women into dark places, both psychologically and physically. Never Gonna Snow Again is not even close in what that film was dealing with, but it is about an isolated community, and a lone man- played by Alec Utgoff- that enters into that world to catch a glimpse of all the complexities that arise with various people. Never Gonna Snow Again is an obscure, but often brilliant look at humans, their various differences, and the powerful magic of one man.
Alec Utgoff (known from Stranger Things) stars as Zhenia, living in a small town of Poland, but grew up in Russia, in a village just a stone’s throw away from the tragedy of Chernobyl. He now resides in a highrise, nestled behind a wealthy gated community, and makes a living as a masseur, going from house to house, servicing the various characters we meet. For Zhenia, he’s not just good at his job, he has an almost magical ability of hypnosis, able to ease his client with just a touch of the hand on the neck, or a snap of his fingers. The allure of his position, however, are the various people he meets, some women who clearly have an attraction to him, a man that is struggling with cancer, and another woman that just wants his companionship. Zhenia has lived a different life compared to the people he takes care of, and yet, his presence brings a sense of calm, an outsider stepping into a world where people just can’t seem to find any kind of peace.
When watching Never Gonna Snow Again, what audiences need to look out for are the various themes at hand, which includes a hint at global warming, isolation, relationships with people who are from different places, and how a community can co-exist. One of the first people Zhenia takes care of is Maria (Maja Ostaszewska), living with her two children, and business busy husband. She clearly needs the sense of touch and appreciation from Zhenia, something she isn’t getting at home. For Zhenia it is not a sexual thing either, it is a comforting calmness, a genuine attention to the needs of a person. The other character at hand is Wika (Weronika Rosati), the wife who’s husband (Lukasz Simlat) is dying from cancer. She seeks comfort from Zhenia behind her husband’s back, attempting to stay strong in the face of his illness. It’s her husband who only finds an inkling of solace in Zhenia’s care and the drugs he gets from a local teen that sells, but he is often as miserable as one might expect. There’s not a lot of happiness in this community, but when Zhenia is doing his hypnosis on a client, it is in those moments where he is able to open up, dancing freely in the house, experiencing a sense of wealth that he has never been a part of. For a brief chance, someone born in poverty can live like a king.
There are multiple things about Never Gonna Snow Again that play like an enigma. There’s not a lot to the narrative, written by Michal Englert and Szumowska, but there’s a lot to the character structure, and the dissection of what a community becomes. Zhenia becomes a fascinating study, mixing in flashbacks to his past, where his mother took care of him, alone in a dark high-rise apartment standing in the cold path of Chernobyl. Never Gonna Snow Again is almost about survival more than just isolation among a community.
One thing is for sure that Malgorzata Szumowska and her co-director/writer/cinematographer Michal Englert are on an excellent wavelength of storytelling together. It can’t be forgotten that Never Gonna Snow Again also looks incredible, proving that a movie can be heightened by the cinematography, no matter the setting, but Englert is rising as one of the greats working today. The blending of the look, the unique, calming presence of Alec Utgoff’s performance, and the mind flexing concept of a village filled with various personalities make Never Gonna Snow Again a fascinating film and another win for Malgorzata Szumowska. It’s a movie to see before it all melts away.
NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN IS PLAYING ON DEMAND WHERE AVAILABLE FROM KINO LORBER
Written by: Leo Brady