Oscar contender Never Gonna Snow Again swamped with rave reviews
Poland’s candidate for the 2021 Academy Awards has been showered with praise after being shown at the Venice International Film Festival.
‘Never Gonna Snow Again’ co-directed by Małgorzata Szumowska (‘Body’, ‘Mug’, ‘The Other Lamb’) with her long-time collaborator Michał Englert, is the first Polish entry to the main competition in five years.
The film tells the story of Ukrainian masseur Zhenia (Alec Utgoff) who enters the lives of despondent Polish inhabitants of a gated community.
Commenting on the story, Guy Lodge from Variety remarked: “’Never Gonna Snow Again’ is so rich in sociopolitical allusions and delicate, shivery modulations of mood that not all of its script’s manifold ideas have full room to bloom. (…)
“Yet for all its dangling notes, the film reaches a genuinely symphonic conclusion, shedding any excess rancor in its satire to unite a community in fears over death, disconnection and, per its title, a winter that seems to get warmer every year.”
Apart from the nuanced and charismatic character played by Utgoff, the assorted collection of a disillusioned middle-class is portrayed by a strong Polish cast, including Maja Ostaszewska, Agata Kulesza, Weronika Rosati, Katarzyna Figura, Andrzej Chyra, and Łukasz Simlat.
Aside from their engaging stories, the viewers' attention is drawn to the story by Englert’s perfect cinematography.
Deborah Young from Hollywood Reporter wrote: “The technical work is a joy to watch, particularly Englert’s inspired lighting that gives Utgoff’s face the strange features of an angel. Costumes and production design underline the expensive emptiness of the living spaces.”
She added: “With each new film, the ranking Polish filmmaker Szumowska seems to be breaking new ground with off-beat stories that challenge the audience to find a door into them.”
For all its positive reception, the movie is demanding to watch with its heavy atmosphere and rich allegories, even if they are interlaced with humour.
Reviewing the film for Screen Daily, Jonathan Romney said: “Even though the outré characterization and elaborate visual execution ultimately make it feel that the film is trying just a touch too hard to freak the viewer out, its imagistic flamboyance, coupled with a quietly charismatic lead from Ukrainian actor Alec Utgoff, mean the film stands every chance of being the duo’s most visible venture yet.”
Widely perceived as a career-high for Szumowska, ‘Never Gonna Snow Again’ will have to wait for the Venice main competition verdict at the Saturday gala closing the festival.
The movie doesn’t have a cinema release date yet, though it is supposed to premiere in Poland in the first part of 2021, while Variety reported that due to the festival buzz the movie has found distributors in the U.K., Italy, and Germany.