It’s snowing in Benidorm – Timothy Spall’s soldiers under the sun | Movies
Oince a festival rendezvous, Catalan director and screenwriter Isabel Coixet’s latest gifts have been a post-Brexit olive branch, reminding us Brits that unspoiled sea, sand and self-improvement are never just a thing. to some rebuilt bridges. Yet he progresses with such eccentricity that he seems unlikely to reverse anyone’s course.
A particularly oppressed Timothy Spall plays Peter, a weary financial drone and weather-enthusiast whose obviously lonely little life — measured in nocturnal ginger winks — faces redirection after his brother goes missing in the title Spanish resort town. Beaching this cold fish in sunny climates, Coixet aims for life affirmation. What follows eventually comes close to frowning, with trials of patience just around the corner.
Somewhere here, there’s the germ of a workable idea: reclaiming the party’s central destination as a place of sun-bleached mystery and potential reinvention. After a grueling prologue in a very unrepresentative Manchester, the film begins to breathe a little easier abroad, as Jean-Claude Larrieu’s camera navigates the rats of funpubs to land sporadically on stunning sets.
Yet what’s up front is always stuffy and unconvincing. Any pleasure in watching a filmmaker harness the talent of the ever-neglected Sarita Choudhury is immediately negated by bewilderment at what she’s doing on Spall’s balcony – and why she’s performing an erotic cabaret number for pensioners who obviously wouldn’t not in the audience of an erotic cabaret number.
Spall’s soldiers continue regardless, sinking deeper into his recessive character, tending to a bluffing northern brogue and trying to sublimate Coixet’s more airy ideas. Yet his gift – to convey a lot with a little – is wasted on such an outlandish script; he can only listen to police chief Carmen Machi inform him that people are boxes that need to be opened.
Pushing its luck to two hours, it eventually crumbles into a heap of its own symbolism, barely unpacking the missing persons plot it started with. Nice views along the way, but it’s a hastily scribbled tale on the back of a postcard.