NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN (Sniegu juz nigdy nie bedzie)

(director/writer: Michal Englert, Malgorzata Szumowska; cinematographer: Michal Englert; editors: Jaroslaw Kaminski, Agata Cierniak; music: ; cast: Alec Utgoff (Zenia), Maja Ostaszewska (Maria), Agata Kulesza (Ewa),  Jerzy Nasierowski (Clerk), Weronika Rosati (Wika), Katarzyna Figura (Owner of bulldogs), Andrzej Chyra (Soldier), Lukasz Simiat (Wiks’s husband), Maciej Drosio (Jan), Wojciech Starostecki  (Blonde Husband), Astrid Nanowska (Blonde); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: NR; producers; Agnieszka Wasiak, Mariusz Wlodarkski, Viola Fugen, Michael Weber, Malgorzata Szumowska, Michal Englert: Match Factory/A Kino Lorber release; 2020-Poland/Germany-in Polish, Russian, French, Vietnamese with English subtitles)

A stunning sci-fi drama.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A stunning sci-fi drama co-directed by two Polish filmmakers, Michal Englert and Malgorzata Szumowska (“The Other Lamb”/”Mug”), with the woman director Malgorzata as a creative partner with her regular DP Englert. Their hypnotic art film explores alienation in repressed Poland, which just elected its homophobic President Andrzej Duda. The former Communist country is anti-migrant but relents only when offering visas to foreign workers for low-paying jobs.

The mysterious emigrant, the Ukrainian Zenia (Alec Utgoff), born in Chernobyl, is a
muscular masseuse with mystical powers. Through trickery (he forged his work-permit after putting the bureaucrat in charge of distribution to sleep under hypnosis) and thereby secures work in a well-heeled Polish gated community, where most of his clients are depressed. The artful Zenia uses all his trade tricks to open up his downtrodden clients. When he becomes accepted by them, he even uses his therapy skills to smooth the way for them to have better sex lives and interact better with their pets.

The morose setting resembles to a degree Pasolini’s landscape in Teorema (1968). With Zenia, in various episodes making the rounds of his wealthy clients’ luxury homes as healer and savior of their souls.

The following three ladies, Maja Ostaszewska (the real-life wife of Englert), Katarzyna Figura and Agata Kulesza, are chain-smoking dog-lovers who shun the new residents and any changes in their lives.  Lukasz Simlat is a dying father, while the soldier Andrzej Chyra is a client with many personal issues.

In the end, we receive no answers to the immigration problems raised or about the closing of the wide economic gap between the wealthy and the working class. Instead the nuanced tale hovers over us in a darkly lyrical way, telling us how desperate living conditions are in modern Poland and tells of the rumors that persist because of climate change that it will never snow again. This displeases the winter loving Zenia, who perishes the thought he might never again see the winter snow he loves so dearly but be left with the bad memories of his mother dying from the radioactive fallout and smothered by the falling ashes that filled the sky in Chernobyl.

The opaque film leads us to ponder the sad emptiness of the bourgeoisie, in a country that has gone from one bad ruling system to another.