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First of all, apologies to fans of the once-popular ITV sitcom who thought the word ‘Benidorm’ in a film review might mean a big screen adaptation of their beloved show (your time will come). Those who’ve been to see It Snows in Benidorm, and under no such illusion, will have left the cinema feeling this was a far from wasted, if not overwhelming, experience.
If it’s action you want, then avoid, avoid, avoid. If, however, you’re after a look at how it’s never too late for… well, anything really, then this could be a flick for you.
As already hinted at, that’s not to say this is a classic by any means, no matter what you’re persuasion, but it’s a pleasant enough tale of realigning yourself, albeit without grabbing life by the scruff of the neck and going full throttle – this is not your typical journey of self-discovery – with some clichéd personality change thrown in. Peter (Timothy Spall) a mortgage advisor and born-and-bred Mancunian, is forced into retirement sooner than he would’ve liked. With a generous redundancy package in hand, he decides to travel to Benidorm to visit his estranged brother.
It’s not long before he meets Alex (Sarita Choudary), a semi-retired showgirl and cabaret veteran, and their polar opposite personalities and outlooks on life soon start to complement one another in more ways than one. The film does tread more familiar territory in terms of the whole chalk-and-cheese premise, but it’s subtly portrayed and so never comes across as something we’ve seen all too often. This is thanks in no small part to the genuine chemistry between the two leads – and that’s meant genuinely.
One problem that It Snows in Benidorm runs into is that when we finally do see some action, it just clashes with the film’s personality. The only other breaks from its sedate pace are snapshots of a typical Costa Blancan holiday, and so when it tries to get a bit darker it’s simply out of place. It’s as if we’ve gone along with what the storyline’s saying and then all of a sudden have a crisis of identity on our hands. It does, however, manage to pull off something once thought impossible, and shows Benidorm’s laid-back side. This is only said half-jokingly, as it juggles the two extremes of this infamous destination extremely well.
Spall is a past master at making seemingly dull, slightly odd characters highly watchable. Here he cracks it for the most part, but there are times when you lose a little sympathy for Peter, which is due to the unnecessarily long wandering phase. Yes, it’s good to go on a journey with the protagonist, but the audience shouldn’t feel lost along the way. In fact, the character can get mildly annoying at times, but Spall holds it together without too much trouble.
An area where the movie definitely lets itself down is in the overuse of certain political references. Most people are well aware of what this has all meant for certain aspects of society over the last couple of years, and it’s necessary to give parts of the film credence; however, there is such a thing as overkill, particularly where politics is concerned, but it’s mentioned too much, almost to the point of hijacking the entire film.
It Snows in Benidorm is indeed a strange one; not particularly heart-warming, thrilling or emotional. Yet it suggests enough of these adjectives – and more besides – to see it through the few hitches in the script and direction.
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