Snowman's Land

Snowman's Land


Reviewed by: James Benefield

Walter (Jürgen Rißmann) is a hit man whose career is going to pot. He's drinking heavily, gambling, and he's just shot the wrong guy. Before it gets any worse he's encouraged to take a holiday. Walter retires to the snowy mountains for some peace. Here he meets another hitman - Mickey (Thomas Wodianka) - and they both pay a visit to an old employer living in a mansion amongst the snowy peaks.

However, when they arrive at the mansion things are somewhat amiss. Their employer Berger isn't there, although a nubile young woman is. She's a wild cat; she takes drugs, appears in naked photos scattered around the house, and she also takes an interest in Mickey. Things then literally backfire. During a sex game she accidentally shoots herself. Hours later Berger returns home, and things go from bad to worse.

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Thomson's film does owe a lot to Fargo - its snowy location and its tale of incompetent hitmen especially - but it also seems to owe a lot to Ealing comedies. The tone here is plain farce. Much of the violence that occurs in the film is played for laughs. It doesn't share the same graphic nature as Fargo either, and there is certainly no wood chipper. There is, however, a swimming pool with a lingering smell of blood and decay.

Where the film falls down is in its direction. The set up is good, but the pay off is less successful. After Berger returns home to wreak glorious vengeance, the film does falter. There are a couple of twists thrown in which are fun, but ultimately a little unbelievable. It's a shame because the characters are so good, and they are played with warmth. Jürgen Rißman is particularly wonderful as Walter; his hangdog expression is equal parts heartbreak and hilarity.

To be fair, the signs were there from the beginning. The introduction of a slightly overbearing voiceover and some flashy visuals could have either been the icing on the cake, or over-compensatory. Unfortunately it's the latter, and although always engaging, Snowman's Land is essentially a cold fish.

Reviewed on: 19 Jun 2010
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When a contract killer on the run takes what looks like an easy job in the mountains, things go from bad to worse.
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Director: Tomasz Thomson

Writer: Tomasz Thomson

Starring: Jürgen Rißmann, Thomas Wodianka, Reiner Schöne, Eva-Katrin Hermann, Waléra Kanischtscheff

Year: 2010

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: Germany


EIFF 2010

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