Director: Andrew Hulme
Cast: Frederick Schmidt, Martin Askew, David Spinx
Watch Snow in Paradise online in the UK: TalkTalk TV Store / Curzon Home Cinema / iTunes / Amazon Instant Video / Google Play
Struggling in a world in which the rich are getting richer and the rest are lost, Dave is torn between the lure of money from his ruthless gangster uncle, Jimmy, and the happiness his friends and girlfriend bring him. Without ever making a real decision, Dave is caught up in a brutal world of beatings, drug-use and perpetual fear. Unable to escape, he spirals out of control down this violent rabbit hole.
Snow in Paradise opts not for new perspectives or twists on established British crime-drama traits, but more to refine them. The bad guys are really bad; the good guys are also pretty bad. Writers Martin Askew and Andrew Hulme craft a recognisable, grey world with arguably clichéd characters, but they do it exceptionally well. The script is sleek, it’s certain and it provides the building blocks for a brilliant piece of storytelling.
Landing somewhere between Ill Manors and Pusher, Snow In Paradise follows the agonising fall of Dave, played by Frederick Schmidt. If there were any doubt over the writers’ use of stereotypes or repetition, none could be levelled at Schmidt. A pitch-perfect leading man, he balances Dave’s hate for the upper classes with his fear of Uncle Jimmy and his growing respect for his only solace, the teachings of Islam. Schmidt provides a narrator that begs for empathy, but never looks out of place in fist-fights, or handling kilos of cocaine. If that wasn’t enough, he’s flanked by great performances from co-writer Martin Askew as Uncle Jimmy and David Spinx as ‘Uncle’ Micky – a peaceful, successful businessman, who believes that violence isn’t always necessary on the wrong side of the law.
A film that embraces and crafts its clichés rather than breaking them down, Snow In Paradise deserves cult status as a film that raises the bar. Beyond that, Schmidt himself should catch the eye of some bigger pictures; his range and likability shine through his character’s satisfying story arc. Askew and Hulme have created a brilliant world of gangsters, pushers and kindly clerics; it’s sharp, it’s emotional and it’s fantastically executed by the cast.