Available in theaters and on virtual platforms beginning July 30th from distributors Kino Lorber, Never Gonna Snow Again is the sort of movie that deftly blurs the lines between reality and irreality. In the hands of Polish filmmakers Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englert, surreal occurrences are skillfully inserted between the frames of the ordinary, causing a similar feeling of awe felt after a ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ magic trick. Starring Alec Utgoff of Stranger Things fame, Never Gonna Snow Again felt like it was spinning its wheels a lot of the time story-wise, with quite a bit of repetition in character interactions and the story not moving very far in retrospect of point A to point B, however, it shoots the proverbial spinning wheels beautifully, offering a dimly lit but stimulating narrative.
Never Gonna Snow Again follows Zhenia (Alec Utgoff), a young, eastern European immigrant making his rounds in an affluent neighborhood where he performs massage services. While inside of his clients’ swanky homes he also digs inside of their personal lives, rifling through their things, compromising their relationships, and getting inside the minds of his customers to a point where the line between professional and familiar becomes muddled. Not only does he use his hands to relax muscles, but he also learns to hypnotize in order to further clients’ healing, honing the powers of telepathy hidden within him since his childhood in Chernobyl. Each new session deepens his clients’ obsessions with him, with his knock-out combination of massage and hypnotism turning him into a bonafide healer.
Never Gonna Snow Again has a melancholy tone, creating the sort of atmosphere that depicts the upper-class living out painfully dull existences that look charmed but tedious. While the massages lulled them into even deeper facial expressions of disconnectedness, between these scenes of ungrateful extravagance, directors Egert and Szumowski spliced in beautifully surreal sequences of fevered flashbacks and daydreams that display gorgeous cinematography. The film made excellent use of the Polish woods to create fantastic imagery, framing the daydreams and flashbacks amongst trees, alluding to there being secrets hidden in the deeper parts of each character’s metaphorical forest. As the film delves deeper and deeper into the private lives of Zhenia’s clients, it is very interesting to see the motivations of each character revealed, with the ensemble cast comprised of mostly desperate housewives, each with a distinct personality all their own.
Furthermore, the screenwriters insert culturally insensitive quips, offering commentary on the many xenophobic microaggressions that add up to a feeling of otherness in immigrants like Zhenia. Even though Never Gonna Snow Again is just a few minutes shy of two hours long the film has a nice flow to it, and so like a Russian ballet, it never misses a beat, hitting intimate close-ups and out-of-body-feeling wide-shots that build a languid but absorbing narrative. It feels like the kind of movie where there is quite a bit of hidden meaning and parallels within its vignettes of interactions between the leisurely higher class and the working poor, as well as possible symbolism of oppression from the frequent depiction of pets on a leash. However, I could just be reading too much into the imagery of this movie, which in any case, had a titillating telepathic story that was sometimes erotic and at all times enthralling despite not much actually happening.
The supernatural element of Never Gonna Snow Again is so subtle that it is hardly noticeable, but it is right there in plain sight in retrospect, the main culprit of the movie’s euphoric or dreamy moments. Though the main character is haunted by his past, Never Gonna Snow Again is not a horror or even a thriller, but it may catch the fancy of arthouse lovers who enjoy narratives centered around lone protagonists heading stories that have some fat to chew on over afterward, allowing the audience to ruminate on the film’s themes of class and immigration. Written and directed by Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englert, Never Gonna Snow Again is definitely a slow burner as far as passing and plot development, but it boils all the same, offering interesting mini-stories strung together by a mysterious but magnetic protagonist.
7.25 out of 10