Snow in Paradise: a feverish quest feeling your way through the night
by Bénédicte Prot
- CANNES 2014: The directorial debut feature by the experienced editor Andrew Hulme follows the path of a petty criminal in the haze of the underworld towards the light of religion
It’s the tale of a very inspiring individual journey that persuaded experienced British editor Andrew Hulme, a regular collaborator with Anton Corbijn (Control [+see also:
film profile], The American) and Julian Jarrold (whose Red Riding 1974 notably earned him a BAFTA nomination), to get behind the camera. Indeed, Snow in Paradise [+see also:
interview: Andrew Hulme
film profile] resumes the true story of the charismatic Martin Askew, who co-wrote the screenplay with Hulme and who himself plays the film’s main character, Dave, whom we don’t abandon for a second all throughout this misty and troubled nocturnal journey which will take him from London's East End underworld to conversion to Islam.
The journey is undertaken with his friend Tariq, whose skin colour displeases the local Godfathers, who have always followed the same very strict "rules", a code to be steadfastly respected which does not include the participation of a Muslim friend in its deals. They reckon without Dave’s arrogance, who, from the moment he is entrusted with a bag containing several kilos of cocaine (and takes from it a large quantity for himself, which from that point on he continues to consume incessantly and frenetically), is full of confidence, pride and aggression (an act of thoughtlessness in "Hubris" which culminates in the mad absurdity of his attempt to go and confront the big boss).
He is both so "high" and so lost that during his fevered voyage in nocturnal London and its underworld, he loses his friend Tariq and sets about "turning" in beautiful circles in order to find him – a disorientation highlighted to perfection by the timing of the editing and the play on lights around the character, at times shrouded in blinding halos, at times engulfed in the electrifying rays of nightclubs and other haunts which continue to cross his path.
While in a gloomy garage the hangman’s noose already awaits him, it’s in another place, bright, clean, clear – the Mosque where he in fact ends up in his effort to find Tariq – where he’ll find an alternative to his fate. Because as the head of the organisation which he is involved in tells him, it’s up to him to choose, he’s the one responsible for his destiny and, conversely, for his own disorientation. Due to the powerful draught that is the painful disappearance of Tariq, this place that he first barged into in disarray, without taking off his shoes, is one that he alone can choose to enter truly, voluntarily and, in fact, respectfully. In this place another type of light awaits him, clear, free from shadows and haze. It’s in this place, this refuge for body and soul which he enters out of breath, that he will find serenity.
(Translated from French)