When Xenia (Alec Utgoff), a handsome masseur with a mysterious smile, arrives at a wealthy gated community in Poland, he gains a reputation among depressed locals for his extraordinary – perhaps magical – healing abilities. It is not sad that most of his clients are suffering women, and Xenia’s warm, attentive touch frees them from their regular miseries, if only for a short while.
From Edward Scissorhands to Peter Sellers in “Being There,” the curious outsider poses as a spiritual balm to his bourgeois malaise. In many ways, “Never Gonna Snow Again”, co-directed by Polish filmmaker Malgorzata Zumowska with cinematographer Michael Englert, follows suit.
Xenia, a Ukrainian migrant worker born just seven years before the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, is no other fool – though the condescension she encounters suggests her employers believe otherwise.
As Xenia becomes a community fixture, the lives of her isolated clients are revealed in a series of vignettes that are downright sad but also cheeky. We meet, among others, a housewife who is overwhelmed by her impudent children; A drunk woman was obsessed with her three bulldogs; A bohemianesque widow whose creepy son makes synthetic drugs. Bored, they begin to lust after Xenia while dealing with their concerns around class, climate change and Polish identity – issues that Zumowska and Englert are subtly integrated, yet leave opaque.
From the sterile symmetry of a neighborhood made up of lifeless McMansions, the film cuts to shimmering images of a shadowy forest, moments of supernatural fascination to imagine the sublime experience created by Xenia’s hypnosis sessions.
Utgoff is irresistibly compelling, establishing in his character a silent yet singular presence worthy of the “superhero” status he eventually achieves. Yet Xenia, flesh and bones human, emerges in pieces – a shimmering dance routine, a moonlit scooter ride with her security guard friend – shows that there is much more here than meets the eye, if only we can actually see.
it will never snow again
not evaluated. In Polish, Russian, French and Vietnamese with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 53 minutes. in Theaters.