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by Flo Lackner

grade: 7

In Operation White Christmas, successful action scenes and a good pace that characterises the entire feature film from beginning to end pleasantly entertain the viewer, giving him an experience that is rarely enjoyed in domestic cinema. At the K3 Film Festival 2023.

Snowless Christmas?

We are all nostalgic for the long evenings spent in the video shop choosing the next film to rent. Especially now, when streaming platforms are part of our everyday life and sometimes even present some films in previews, without them being released in cinemas. Yet, when we happen to come across some small video shops that still ‘fight’ in a world where everything happens mainly on the Internet, we can only rejoice. It’s just a pity that, often, such realities are in dire financial straits. Poor Enis Altmann (played by Rauand Taleb), the protagonist of the feature film Operation White Christmas, first film by Carinthian director Flo Lackner, presented as part of the programme of the K3 Film Festival 2023, knows something about this.

Enis, then, is the owner of Carinthia’s last video store. Deeply in debt, the young man asks for help from his best friend Domino (Yvonne Yung Hee Bormann), an expert hacker who finds via the dark web the bizarre businessman Bob (an always extraordinary Roland Düringer), who is willing to take over Enis’s debts. Everything resolved, then? Things, unfortunately, are never that simple and, in order to obtain Bob’s help, our friend will have to carry out a decidedly unusual mission: he has to prevent the visit of the president of Kazakhstan to Carinthia, scheduled for Christmas Day.

Already from a first, cursory reading of the synopsis, therefore, we realise that what we are about to witness is a decidedly unconventional feature film. The president of Kazakhstan absolutely does not want to visit Carinthia if it snows. In order to allow such a visit, therefore, the national army has planes to chemically make the snow disappear. Enis, however, is willing to collaborate with a group of subversives to ensure that Carinthia is pleasantly (and traditionally) snowed in on Christmas Day. All this happens, therefore, in Operation White Christmas.

Flo Lackner, for his part, has created a Christmas comedy with a thriller character in which anything really happens and in which deliberately trashy solutions seem to fit perfectly within a context in which tradition and action are ready to make every possible cliché their strong points, resulting in a merciless and highly satirical portrait of contemporary Austria. Script twists and starting situations that do not always find due justification are probably Operation White Christmas‘s greatest weakness. And yet, at the same time, successful action scenes and a good pace that characterises the entire feature from beginning to end pleasantly entertain the viewer, offering him an experience that rarely happens in domestic cinema. Christmas is just around the corner. Carinthia is a place sparkling with festive lights. Who knows whether our protagonists will experience their happy ending.

Original title: Operation White Christmas
Directed by: Flo Lackner
Country/year: Austria / 2023
Running time: 90’
Genre: comedy, action, thriller
Cast: Rauand Taleb, Yvonne Yung Hee Bormann, Roland Düringer, Franz Buchrieser, Melanie Böhm, Hans Peter Hedlmayer, Ivan Forlani, Simon Hatzl, Petra Morzé, Tim Seyfi, Otto Retzer, Charles Rettinghaus, Yevgeni Sitokhin, Tim Wilde, Flo Lackner, Andreas Vitásek, Bamlak Werner, Martin Kautz, Michael Kuglitsch, Kai Möller, Siegfried Möstl, Julia Rosa Peer
Screenplay: Flo Lackner
Cinematography: Joe Berger
Produced by: Frei Audio, Mona Film

Info: the page of Operation White Christmas on iMDb; the page of Operation White Christmas on the website of the K3 Film Festival; the page of Operation White Christmas on the website of the Austrian Film Commission