• Golden Globe Awards

Never Gonna Snow Again (Poland)

From acclaimed Polish director Małgorzata Szumowska comes the modern tale of a quiet but charismatic Ukrainian masseur called Zhenia (Alec Utgoff).  He enters the film emerging from the dept of a forest at night carrying a massage table over his shoulder and a small backpack. He crosses a bridge, walks through a tunnel and by daylight he comes to a building where people are crowding the stairs of what seems an unemployment office. He hypnotizes an official who asks for some help: “You are asleep” he recites laying his hand on the head of the officer. “I’m taking away your misery, the suffering of your sickness. Like a black stream, it flows from your feet through your body into my hands. Take a deep breath. As you exhale you become lighter like a piece of dust”
As Zhenia leaves the man’s office, with a work permit signed and stamped, the camera pans to show the needle of a record player, which magically starts to play. The splendid cinematography is by Małgorzata’s long-time collaborator Michael Englert who also co-directed this movie. Most of the action takes place in a gated community at the edge of town made up of identical white mansions. Zhenia heals many different clients, a drunken mother who is called “slut” by her small child. A man dying of cancer, a widow, a woman who wants her three dogs massaged. Despite their wealth, the residents seem to be in competition with each other’s life’s benefits and Zhenia’s healing hands and hypnosis seem to penetrate their inner feelings and give them immense comfort.
Zhenia is a mysterious figure. He was born near Chernobyl and the infamous nuclear meltdown, in which he lost his mother, happened when he was seven years old. In flashbacks and dream sequence we see that the nuclear fallout looked like snow to a child. His supernatural talent is also explained as “radioactive”.  Zhenia doesn’t say much but just wanders around, observing. Unlike the crazy inhabitants, pouring out all kinds of frustrations.
“We don’t explain who he is,” said Małgorzata Szumowska at the Venice Film Festival where the film entered in the competition. He plays the role of a person who doesn’t speak Polish well, doesn’t understand everything, and that was also the case with Alec (a Russian born English actor). We decided to make it a part of his character. He is a bit absent, a bit otherworldly. He seems to listen to these people, looking deeply into their souls, but he doesn’t answer”.
The title, “Never Gonna Snow Again”, may suggest that we will never see a nuclear fallout again … One could only hope.