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it snows in benidorm

★★★★

starring: timothy spall, sarita choudhury, ana torrent, and pedro casablanc

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

Peter has worked all his life at a Manchester bank. When he is awarded an early retirement, he decides to visit his brother in Benidorm, only to discover that he's disappeared.

Timothy Spall is one of the busiest actors in the business appearing in a plethora of projects over the last few years and attached to many more that are in different forms of production. And there’s a very good reason why. While he has starred in blockbuster films such as the Harry Potter franchise, The Last Samurai, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in supporting roles, Spall is one of the best actors of his generation, immediately raising the quality of whatever TV or film project he is in. While It Snows in Benidorm has sun, suspense, and romance it’s Spall’s superb performance that elevates this into an intimate character study.

After being forced to retire, Peter, a man of routines and few joys, decides to go to Benidorm to visit his brother Daniel with whom he has little contact. But when he arrives in Benidorm, Daniel seems to have vanished. Peter discovers that his brother owns the Benidorm Club, where a group of dancers make exotic and burlesque performances. Among them, Alex, a beautiful woman with an enigmatic past, begins to steal Peter's heart as he begins the search for his brother. 

While It Snows in Benidorm has clear and distinctive narrative beats, it’s a film that wanders, that takes its time and demands a little patience from its audience. In doing so we witness a superb and intimate character study centralised on the character of Peter and musings on life, purpose, and romance.

Director Isabel Coixet uses everything at her disposal to seek to show the gradual transformation of Peter, our protagonist. From the drab and bleak UK to the sunny shores of Spain and the monotonous life of a bank clerk to the bursting at the seams life of Benidorm, all are used to illustrate and show us Peter’s journey. 

But the star of the show is Timothy Spall. The melodramatic nature of the villainous or characters with very distinctive and outrageous features or habits are a lot easier to portray but the mark of a great actor is one who can perfectly inhabit the ordinary. And herein lies Spall’s genius. Peter is a bland, ordinary kind of guy and Spall brings him magnificently to life in all his normality with a genuine innocent kindness. 

While It Snows in Benidorm has sun, suspense, and romance it’s Spall’s superb performance that elevates this into an intimate character study.

★★★★