Film Reviews: European Film Festival – Never Run In Snow Again, Uje

October 4, 2021

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By BRUCE DENNILL

The European Film Festival runs online from 14-21 October. There are 18 films on offer, including the below titles:

 

Run Uje Run / Directed by Henrik Schyffert / PG13

Uje Brandelius – for whom this film is a visual autobiography – is, as presented by the first part of the script, an altogether lovely human being. He shares a devoted, warm, joyful love with his wife; uses humour to make his kids’ homework more fun; is civil but firm with racist and homophobic callers to his radio show and cannot even find it in himself to be rude to insurance cold-callers. It seems crueller than usual then, that such a person should be afflicted with Parkinson’s disease as a relatively young man. But in a dramatic and artistic sense, it is this discovery that lays the foundation for the film, which is an intriguing mix of documentary (some of Brandelius’ family appear in the film as well), dark comedy (in both the character relationships and the satirical way in which various contemporary cultural issues are dealt with), and screen musical (Brandelius is a musician and wrote the music for the project, which generally ties in to or underlines the themes of the themes in the relevant scenes). This structure and these ideas, plus the different atmosphere and mood of a Swedish-made film over the cliched Hollywood versions, mean that Run Uje Run will feel different, and perhaps uncomfortable, to watch for some viewers. But as an examination of the claustrophobic headspace that comes with finding out that your life has changed for the worse, becoming angry – bitter, perhaps – and trying to process that in a way that hurts those you love the least, it’s moving and gently absorbing; sad in a way that doesn’t require manipulation to inspire emotion.

 

Never Gonna Snow Again / Directed by Małgorzata Szumowska, and Michał Englert / 16N

There’s an auteur air to this restrained but quirky story about a masseur (Alec Utgoff) whose job allows him access to and insight into the residents of a well-to-do gated community in Poland. The interactions between the masseur and his rich, mostly entitled customers recall Altman ensemble character studies, particularly those set in Hollywood, while some of the more mystical elements and visuals might be excite Malick fans. Directors Małgorzata Szumowska, and Michał Englert are in no hurry to make any of their points, but they do touch on, or at least allude to, a range of uncomfortable topics including the integration of immigrants, the lack of meaning in simple material wealth, the powerlessness and cruelty of the lonely and how unlikely it is that social systems are going to rehabilitate themselves any time soon. Utgoff’s performance is excellent. He’s unlikely to be familiar to South African audiences regardless, but it’s the kind of work that allows the actor to disappear into the character. Despite this, the combination of darkness – both literal (in terms of the lighting) and thematic, the pacing and the multi-lingual dialogue funnelled via subtitles ensure that Never Gonna Snow Again requires more focus and commitment than a casual viewer might be willing to invest.

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