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SNOWMAN’S LAND (director/writer: Tomasz Thomson; cinematographer: Ralf M. Mendle; editor: Tomasz Thomson; music: Luke Lalonde; cast: Jürgen Rißmann (Walter), Reiner Schöne (“Slurry” Berger), Eva-Katrin Hermann (Sibylle), Thomas Wodianka (Micky), Waléra Kanischtscheff (Kazik), Luc Feit (François), Detlef Bothe (Harry); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Boris Michalski; Music Box Films; 2010-Germany-in German with English subtitles)

A zany Teutonic character-driven film noir that’s filled with deadpan comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A zany Teutonic character-driven film noir that’s filled with deadpan comedy, and only runs amok when it doesn’t give its story a good ending. What is resolved is settled offscreen, leaving the viewer to fill in a lot of the blanks with unneeded guesswork. Nevertheless writer-director Tomasz Thomson (“Silent Storm”)frames a neat offbeat pic about a nice guy bumbling urban mobster stuck on a thankless job in the hinterlands, where his survival becomes the main object.

When melancholy dreamy-eyed hit man Walter (Jurgen Rissmann) screws up a contract killing by eliminating the wrong person in a public urinal, his boss (Detlef Bothe) sends him on a forced vacation. With not enough money to take his dream vacation in theCaribbean islands, the middle-aged bachelor Walter agrees to replace his family man gangster pal (Luc Feit) to work for notorious mobster “Slurry” Berger (Reiner Schöne) in a remote wintry Carpathian mountain hideaway resort. There he encounters an unreliable hit man colleague from the past, Micky (Thomas Wodianka), who is to be his partner on this unknown assignment.

Arriving when Berger is out the hitmen are greeted by Sybille (Eva-Katrin Hermann), the psychotic sharp-tongued pill-popping sexy wife of the boss. Before the dangerous paranoiac Berger returns, an accidental death occurs to Sybille while she’s screwing Micky and the loser hitmen ditch her corpse to cover-up the incident. When Berger returns with his sinister Russian bodyguard Kazik (Waléra Kanischtscheff), the suspicious boss questions them about his missing wife and tells them their strange assignment is to baby sit the house from attacks by unseen locals. He also goes on a rant about his plans to turn the desolate area into a swinging luxury resort, even though the locals will not allow the invasion of their land without attacking him.

The film successfully blends action and comedy, and is mostly played for laughs. It’s easy to watch, as the stark winter scenery is gorgeous. Though aiming for a Fargo, the pic never quite reaches that elevation. Yet despite leaving too many plot details not clear, what was clear seemed just fine and quite enjoyable.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”