Never Gonna Snow Again
A mystical tale by director Małgorzata Szumowska, Polish release Never Gonna Snow Again is a social satire questioning modern day life.
An enigmatic Ukrainian masseur named Zhenia (Alec Utgoff) becomes an indispensable presence in an affluent Polish neighbourhood, whose rich but terribly sad inhabitants spend their lives chasing any form of relief from their ennui. Zhenia’s healing touch gives them an inexplicable sense of wellbeing. Born in Pripyat, Zhenia was a child when the Chernobyl nuclear disaster struck. He now leads a lonely life in Poland and has very little beside his special powers and his devoted regular clients.
Never Gonna Snow Again is episodic and missing a central storyline. In order to appreciate it, one must let go of any expectations of grasping a narrative thread and seeing it evolve. One should rather take in the general mood and try to gauge the overall message. In truth, there are several messages being communicated, but they can all be encompassed by a single critique: climate change is a central theme, as are many of the detrimental effects of a capitalist system, but ultimately it all comes down to questioning the direction that humans have collectively taken – a path not in harmony with our vital needs.
The production is an insightful reflection on where the world stands and where it’s headed. Szumowska creates a microcosm where most of humanity’s vices are represented by one inhabitant or other. From addiction to alcohol, drugs or sex to lack of intimacy and communication, the dwellers of the outwardly idyllic neighbourhood have all kinds of troubles and are anything but satisfied. They have material wealth but are starved of human touch and closeness, which they end up purchasing by using Zhenia’s services. The young man’s otherworldly aura and his status as outsider create a contrast that makes the superficial, monotonous world of the posh neighbours seem all the more starkly empty and grotesque.
The wide scope of the film is admirable, but the inclusion of such a vast range of universal topics also means that the story feels somewhat generic and impersonal. The protagonist remains an ambiguous character to the end, and it’s as if the audience is kept at arm’s length throughout. The viewing experience may thus leave one dissatisfied, although those who appreciate arthouse cinema will certainly enjoy pondering all the questions presented and find the many unresolved enigmas intriguing.
Never Gonna Snow Again is released digitally on demand on 15th October 2021.
Watch the trailer for Never Gonna Snow Again here: