Snow in Paradise (2014)

February 7th, 2015
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director: Andrew Hulme

Writers: Martin Askew, Andrew Hulme

Cast: Frederick Schmidt, Martin Askew, David Spinx, Aymen Hamdouchi

118min  UK  Thriller

In Hoxton, two young men have formed a friendship across the cultural divide Dave (Frederick Schmidt) and his friend Tariq (Aymen Hamdouchi) are wide-boys on a small scale, working for Dave’s notorious East End family.

This gutsy gangland Britflick is the screen debut of Andrew Hulme, better known for his work editing Lucky Number SlevinThe American and The Imposter. SNOW IN PARADISE stands out for its portrayal of an increasingly gentrified East End where the old school crims are slowly being pushed aside by upmarket media types who would rather sip organic beer than chomp bacon sandwiches in the local greasy spoon and a Muslim ‘bruvverhood’ who spend their time preaching peace in the local Mosque.

The film is loosely based on the life of Martin Askew, who co-wrote the script and stars as arch villain “Uncle Jimmy”, a gangland hoodlum. Holding Dave in his thrall with a mesmerising presence, he offers Dave a chance to make some real money with a drug deal – a step up from his usual petty crime. Dave takes the unwitting Tariq along but events turn sour when Tariq goes missing causing Dave’s private demons, coke and crystal meth, to resurface in his life, clouding his vision as he gradually descends into a murky underworld caught between the false bonhommie of “Uncle Mickey” and his rival, the venal “Uncle Jimmy” (David Spinx). His desperate search for his friend eventually leads him to Tariq’s Mosque, where he is welcomed by the faux sincerity of Amjad (Ashley Chin).

As gangland Britflicks go, SNOW is a gripping and watchable thriller and certainly a cut above the rest but the problem lies with the character of Dave. Good-looking and cockily self-assured, he certainly cuts a confident dash in the opening sequences but then completely falls apart on Tariq’s disappearance, despite sexual and emotional support from his girlfriend Teresa, whom he openly adores despite her sideline in sexual favours. Sceptical and almost derisory at first about the power of Islam, Dave then appears to openly embrace the faith without a by-your-leave, making his character both implausible as a hardened petty criminal and a born-again, enlightened soul. All this is viewed through a trippy haze of stylised visual flourishes and a hypnotic soundtrack that occasionally serve to blunt the narrative rather than sharpen what could be a brilliantly hard-nosed thriller with some really first class acting, particularly from Askew, David Spinx and Frederick Schimidt in the volatile lead.  With a little more focus on Dave’s religious conversion (be it to Islam, Buddism, Christianity or any Faith) and what it actually means and stands for in the scheme of things, this cracking debut could have been a good deal more convincing. As it stands, SNOW IN PARADISE is nevertheless a worthwhile contribution to the British gangland genre making Andrew Hulme a directing force to be reckoned with. MT

OUT ON GENERAL RELEASE FROM 13 FEBRUARY 2015

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