Snowman's Land: Film Review

The bottom line: This dark comedy about a German hit man who botches an assignment feels a little too indebted to the Coen brothers.

German writer-director Tomasz Thomson presents the story of hit man who fights for survival after a botched assignment.

A violent dark comedy involving a taciturn hit man set in a barren wintry landscape. No, it’s not Fargo but rather Snowman’s Land, a German film by Tomasz Thomson that wears its influences a little too heavily.

When slovenly killer Walter (Jurgen Rissmann) botches a job by dispatching an unlucky innocent by mistake, he finds himself exiled by his mobster boss (Reiner Schone) with the assignment of guarding his mansion located in the remote and snowy Carpathian Mountains. There he’s joined by a younger colleague and friend, Mickey (Thomas Wodianka), who clearly doesn’t share Walter’s impassive acceptance of the tedious gig.

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Providing some relief from their boredom is the mobster’s free-spirited young wife (Eva-Katrin Hermann), who upon their first meeting regales them with an account of her recent experience at an orgy. It isn’t long before she and Mickey, fueled by the copious amounts of drugs stashed in the house, engage in a torrid assignation resulting in a deadly accident that forces the hapless men to fight for their lives.

Its myriad plot twists notwithstanding, Snowman’s Land never achieves any narrative stream due to its slack pacing and humor so deadpan that it’s often nonexistent. That it works to the extent that it does is a testament to the effectiveness of the performances. The two male leads, with their wildly contrasting physical presences and demeanors, have the feel of a classic comedy team.

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The film also looks terrific, thanks to Ralf M. Mendle’s widescreen cinematography that renders the bleak landscape with such vivid crispness that you practically feel chilly while watching it.

Opened Sept. 14, 2012 (Music Box Films).

Production: Noirfilm Filmproduktion.

Cast: Jurgen Rissman, Thomas Wodianka, Reinder Schone, Eva-Katrin Hermann, Walera Kanischtscheff.

Director/screenwriter/editor: Thomasz Thompson.

Producers: Boris Michalski.

Executive producers: Darko Lovrinic, Michalski.

Director of photography: Ralf M. Mendle.

Production designer: Thorsten Sabel.

Costume designer: Monika Gebauer.

Music: Luke Lalonde.

No rating, 95 min.