The real star of Snowman’s Land isn’t an actor. It’s the German forest, captured during a particularly cold winter. Most of the film takes place at a remote mansion surrounded by vast expanses of snow and trees. You can almost feel the theater’s temperature drop when the characters step outside. (Too bad the cinematography is DV rather than 35mm!) Unfortunately, the images are more inviting than the narrative. Snowman’s Land evokes recent Scandinavian thrillers like Headhunters, but Thomson seems to have a particular love for ’90s neo-noir. He also apes the deadpan-hip attitude of Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismäki, but leaves out the implicit liberal politics. Even the title, a play on the phrase “no man’s land,” is secondhand. Hitman Walter (Jürgen Rißmann) heads to his boss Berger’s (Reiner Schöne) house, where his friend Micky (Thomas Wodianka) is already staying, after screwing up a job. Micky is attracted to Berger’s wife, Sybille (Eva-Katrin Hermann), but this puts both men in danger. Although Walter never gets stoned on camera, he seems more spaced-out than Tommy Chong, but he eventually comes to look smarter than anyone else. Sybille is defined entirely by her voracious appetite for sex and drugs—she synthesizes psychedelic aphrodisiacs in her spare time—and there’s a tinge of misogyny to the way she’s used as a disposable prop. If Snowman’s Land feels disturbingly cold, it’s not entirely due to its vistas of ice and snow.
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