Snow in ParadiseCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Dave, played by new discovery Frederick Schmidt, is the nephew of the menacingly breathy-voiced Jimmy (Martin Askew). Believing that family is the strongest bond, he becomes an accessory to the deals his uncle oversees. Desperate for money and to prove himself as a man, Dave takes on a job that throws him in at the deep end of the east London gangster pool. His actions lead to the devastating death of his best friend and send him spinning into a decline of drug use, violence and denial. Having broken “the rules” Dave quickly finds out the ruthless nature of the circle he has dealt.
Trapped, he finds unexpected release inside the local Islamic community. His loyalty to his uncle is tested when best friend of his father and rival to Jimmy offers him an alternative future. A character with a concrete macho reflex to keep up a guarded veneer, Dave is saved by the openness and simple positivity he finds in Islam.
The intimacy between the camera and Dave’s thoughts and activities makes this film an intense, bordering on claustrophobic ride. The revelations of the sickeningly violent tactics employed to instill fear and level the score between the leaders of London’s daylight gangs have been chillingly rendered by director Andrew Hulme. Italian mafia meetings in gaudy downstairs clubs with language and swagger descendant from the Kray twins, Snow in Paradise is a candid description of the reality of criminal institutions in Britain’s capital today. With a racing climax the build up to the end is a mish mash of nights out and flashing lights, and Dave’s drug taking appears to fog the chronology of the scenes to dizzying effect.
Co-writer and co-star Martin Askew drew loosely on his own experiences as a Hoxton boy who converted to Islam in 2001. With a unique insight into the spirituality of Islam as a faith, Snow in Paradise illustrates the limits of human emotional hardiness. It’s an archetypal story of a boy getting caught up in the backwards world that surrounds “being a man”, a concept that is tantamount to being relentlessly rigid and brutal.
Snow in Paradise is released nationwide on 6th February 2015.