It Snows in Benidorm

March 16, 2022

Review, Theatrical, This Week Leave a Comment

… far more engaging and moving than it might first appear to be.
benidorm

It Snows in Benidorm

Julian Wood
Year: 2020
Rating: MA
Director: Isabel Coixet
Cast:

Timothy Spall, Sarita Choudhury

Distributor: Rialto
Released: March 17, 2022
Running Time: 118 minutes
Worth: $16.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

… far more engaging and moving than it might first appear to be.

Benidorm is a coastal resort in Southern Spain and in this romantic drama it is the backdrop to an awkward but touching relationship.

To British audiences, the name of the town is a whole concept in itself, it stands for the way the English took over this part of Spain and flooded the town with faux-English pubs serving fish and chips and warm beer and filling the beaches with their lobster-boiled overweight bodies. The locals put up with this as part of their dependence on the tourist dollar.

All this is merely the backdrop to Isabel Coixet’s film that focuses instead on the dynamics between the protagonists played by Timothy Spall and Sarita Choudhury.

The film starts semi-comedically with Peter (Spall), a time-serving bank employee, being nudged out of his comfort zone and his job. He decides on a whim to go and link up with his brother who lives in Benidorm, only to discover that said brother has sort of disappeared.

Once Peter encounters exotic dancer Alex (Choudhury), he is immediately transfixed. She initially helps him to try and navigate the Police and Bureaucracy of the local town, but the main focus shifts to their oddball romance, if that is what we can call it.

Coixet has form in exploring late life and shy couplings (The Bookshop), and she does it well. The direction is competent, but the real engine of the film is its casting.

The trope of the tongue-tied and bottled-up Englishman being drawn out of himself by a more full-blooded love object is far from new, but the players bring it to life here.

To say that Spall is hardworking would be a massive understatement. He is never less than watchable and usually inhabits the characters in such a way that you cannot imagine any other actor playing that role. Here, he is taking quite a risk.

His lugubrious aspect and sometimes shambling appearance might not be thought of as a natural fit for romances. He doesn’t do romance really, the closest he comes is a kind of diffident bafflement, but you feel the connection to Alex growing almost despite everything.

Choudhury first made an impression opposite Denzel Washington in Mira Nair’s Mississippi Masala (1991), and hasn’t stopped working since. As Alex, she is sexy, forceful and completely real, and we can easily see why Peter is knocked sideways. Wisely, Coixet gives her stars the chance to play to their strengths and the result is a film far more engaging and moving than it might first appear to be.

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