Snow In Paradise, film review: Edgy drama transcends London gangster-movie clichés

(18) Andrew Hulme, 108 mins. Starring: Frederick Schmidt, Martin Askew, David Spinx
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The Independent Culture

Andrew Hulme's debut feature has moments of tremendous raw power. In particular, he elicits an intense, in-your-face performance from the newcomer Frederick Schmidt as petty gangster Dave, whose life is falling apart in a mess of violence and drugs. Schmidt has a strong physical presence and a sense of defiance about him.

Like Gerard Johnson's Hyena, the film both embraces and tries to transcend London gangster-movie clichés and stereotypes.

The shooting style is edgy. Seemingly throwaway dialogue has a menacing undertow. Snow in Paradise, based on the true story of its co-writer and co-star Martin Askew, also takes a refreshingly unusual approach to Islam. The local mosque, which Dave blunders into in search of a missing friend, isn't a haven for would-be terrorists but the one place where he finds peace and balance in his life.

For all its strengths, the film never quite overcomes its hackneyed plot line, or the posturing gangster characters – Askew's Uncle Jimmy, David Spinx's Micky, meat-cleaver-wielding heavies – who seem to be on leave from The Long Good Friday or some film about the Krays.