Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Snowman’s Land: Chilly in the East
is an area so cold and remote, even Germans find it depressing. Yet, a mysterious crime boss envisions it as
the next winter playground for the rich and beautiful. He is clearly rather cracked—a fact that
leads to many complications for the hitman-protagonist of Tomasz Thomson’s Snowman’s Land (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
a hired killer was a real grind for Walter, even before he botches a workaday
assignment. With his contractor down on
him, the slovenly Walter needs to lie low for a while. Out of nowhere, he is offered the seemingly
perfect gig, subbing for a colleague somewhere vaguely to the east. Essentially, he is to house sit the mountain villa
of a notorious gangster widely thought to be dead. As it happens, old Berger is alive and as
erratic as ever.
will have a buddy for this assignment, but the presence of the unstable Micky
will prove a mixed blessing at best.
When the younger thug accidentally kills Berger’s unfaithful trophy wife
Sibylle in a freak accident, Walter’s peaceful retreat becomes anything
but. Things will get bloody as Burger
and Kazik, his lieutenant with a “third eye,” start demanding answers.
Snowman might be German,
but it is stylistically compatible with the recent bumper crop of Scandinavian
thrillers, featuring a similar brew of lethal black-and-blue comedy against a
Nordic backdrop. Thomson keeps the
double-crosses coming at a good clip, without excessively plundering the Tarantino
playbook. He and cinematographer Ralf
Mendle actually create a pretty creepy vibe, as Walter’s colleagues and
tormentors descend into madness. While
starting as a gangster movie, Snowman almost
evolves into a Carpathian Shining.
Riβmann has the appropriate morose hound-dog presence as Walter, the
comparative gentle giant of an assassin.
However, the film’s real strengths are its villains, played with
set-chewing dash by Reiner Schöne and Waléria Kanischtscheff, as Berger and
Kazik, respectively. Though not long for
the film, Eva-Katrin Hermann’s Sibylle makes a convincingly shrewish femme
fatale. Suffering in comparison, Thomas
Wodianka comes across somewhat blandly as the immature Micky.
While not redefining any genres, Snowman is quite an entertaining character-driven
Sort of chamber gangster piece, Snowman’s
Land is recommended for those who appreciate laughs derived from blood and
paranoia, when it opens this Friday (9/14) in New York at the Cinema Village.
Labels: Gangster Films, German Cinema