A lot has been written about Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 masterpiece Pulp Fiction. The movie was an instant classic that shockingly did not win the Academy Award for Best Picture of the Year. The films legacy is undeniable however and its influence was immediate. Very Bad Things, 2 Days in the Valley, and Suicide Kings were all movies released in the next five years that bore an uncanny resemblance to Tarantino’s opus.
The true test of a film’s importance is how long its influence is felt. To this day, Pulp Fiction’s impact can be felt. The dark comedy and dovetailing storylines of Bad Times at the El Royale is a recent example of a film reminiscent of the iconic film. While it did not invent any of the narrative devices it used, Pulp Fiction pulled them together in a way that was unique and imitable.
The influence of Pulp Fiction has not just spanned decades, it has crossed over to different countries. Snowflake is a 2017 German action film that immediately shows its influence. (The movie starts in a diner where two criminals are having a conversation.) In the long line of Pulp Fiction influenced movies, Snowflake is definitely one of the better ones.
Snowflake is set in Berlin some time in the future. Javid and Tan are two killers that stumble across a screenplay that seems to be about them. The catch is that the script is not about their past, it is about their future. The plot also involves the now orphaned Eliana who is out to get vengeance for her murdered parents.One of the things that made Pulp Fiction so loved was its cast of characters, primarily Jules and Vincent. The two hit men were funny and charming. It was hard for the audience to remember that these were two bad men that made their living killing people for a living. Tarantino’s script was able to do this by giving the men a background that was not typical of gangsters. They had their doubts and made bad decisions but the writing never forced the audience to think they were the good guys.
Snowflake does the same with Javid and Tan. The pair have a great chemistry that makes them the most fun part of the movie. The silly back and forth conversations interspersed with tense action will draw immediate comparisons. It is also made abundantly clear that these two are bad men.The difference in Snowflake is the two killers do not have the same charm. They definitely have the funniest lines in the film, but it is a cynical humor. It is hard to laugh with the two and impossible to cheer for them. There is also a clumsily thrown in subplot that attempts to add sympathy to the two, but just comes off as forced.
Pulp Fiction is also one of the most quoted movies of all time due to its dark comedy. Snowflake uses the same type of humor to great effect. From the opening scene, the film also has its tongue planted firmly in cheek. This is an excellent idea since the premise itself is a difficult one to take seriously. The film is filled with humorous characters that add to the excitement around the entire film.
What separates a good Pulp Fiction inspired film apart from the rest is its creativity. This is where Snowflake stands out. Along with the seemingly supernatural script, the movie deals with themes such as fate, what we are able to control, and revenge. The movie manages to handle all these subjects in an intelligent way that engages the audience. It is not so much a question as to whether what we are seeing is real, but who is in control of their actions? It is great storytelling that meshes perfectly with the action and humor.Snowflake also breaks the fourth wall a number of times. This is a hit or miss proposition with any movie, but Snowflake manages to handle it well. It never so much as directly speaks to the audience as it knowingly winks on a number of occasions. This is done in a way that is never tedious and is written so well that it is barely noticeable.
The film does many things well, but there are some slight issues. There is a lot of randomness in Snowflake. In a movie filled with fast paced gun play and calculated assassins, a Daredevil doppelgänger feels out of place. Even stranger is when the movie starts using freeze frames during a battle scene involving the vigilante.More forced than random is the racist aspect added to the movie. Early in Snowflake, provides a detailed overview of the setting. It is simple, but it is also enough to help set a tone. Occasionally the story will allude to a dislike of immigrants. This goes nowhere and is also unneeded in the already strong script.
Snowflake is another in a long line of films influenced by Pulp Fiction. Unlike many of those films, it is not content to just mimic the Tarantino classic. While there are some similarities, it is creative and unique enough to stand on its own. This is not a new take on an old formula, this is something entirely different.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD through Artsploitation Films and VOD December 4th