‘Never Gonna Snow Again’ Review: You’re Getting Warmer
When Zhenia (Alec Utgoff), a handsome masseur with an enigmatic smile, arrives in a wealthy gated community in Poland, he quickly establishes a reputation among depressed locals for his extraordinary – perhaps even magical – healing abilities. It doesn’t hurt that the majority of his clients are distraught women, and that Zhenia’s warm and caring contact purges them of their routine misery, if only for a little while.
From Edward Scissorhands to Peter Sellers in “Being There”, the curious stranger appears as a spiritual balm to their bourgeois discomfort. In many ways, “Never Gonna Snow Again”, which Polish filmmaker Małgorzata Szumowska co-directed with cinematographer Michał Englert, follows suit.
Zhenia, a Ukrainian migrant worker born exactly seven years before the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, is no otherworldly idiot – although the condescension he faces suggests his employers think otherwise.
As Zhenia becomes part of the community, the lives of her insane clients unfold in a series of vignettes, which are in turn dark, but also cheeky. We meet, among others, a housewife overwhelmed by her impudent children; an alcoholic woman obsessed with her three bulldogs; a bohemian widow whose frightening son makes synthetic drugs. Annoyed, they begin to lust for Zhenia while dealing with their anxieties about class, climate change, and Polish identity – issues that Szumowska and Englert subtly integrate, but leave opaque.
From the barren symmetry of the neighborhood, composed of lifeless McMansions, the film cuts through the scintillating images of a dark forest, moments of eerie enchantment meant to visualize the sublime experience produced by Zhenia’s hypnosis sessions.
Utgoff is irresistibly convincing, infusing his character with a silent but singular presence worthy of the “superhero” status he eventually acquires. Yet Zhenia, the flesh-and-blood human, emerges in fragments – a shimmering dance routine, a moonlit scooter ride with her security guard friend – indicating that there is much more here than it seems, if only we could really see.
Never snow again
Unclassified. In Polish, Russian, French and Vietnamese, with subtitles. Duration: 1 hour 53 minutes. In theaters.
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