Not quite a thriller, not quite a comedy, It Snows In Benidorm echoes the predictable storyline of a Brit finding enlightenment through adventure abroad, but with a droll unfolding of events that makes it something altogether different.
Peter Riordan (Timothy Spall) is a mid-level bank manager in Manchester who subsists on habit (one potato and one apple for dinner, three bikkies for breakfast) and a muted passion for meteorology. When Peter is offered early retirement (read: fired) from WeBank he decides to finally visit his brother Daniel in Benidorm, a Spanish paradise for British holiday-makers and their drunken revelries. On arrival, Peter learns that his brother has disappeared, and in his mild British way, makes enquiries.
Peter is visited by Alex (Sarita Choudhury, and it’s ok to watch the movie just for her performance as Pearl), a woman with an uncertain past who manages Daniel’s Club Benidorm. There, she performs an extraordinary dance that mesmerises Peter, making for a nearly combustible scene of seduction and longing. Alex is mysterious, possibly dangerous, but he is also Peter’s only connection in a resort city with an underbelly of deceit and corruption.
Spall plays the sad-sack Brit with a vestigial tingle of enthusiasm for a not-quite-yet squashed life. With a worn face and the bearing of an ever-overlooked soul, he adds expressions that are like wrinkles with muscle, and an abashed shuffling that just might conceal an interest beyond the weather.
The film veers from sneaky formula to absurdist humour, interspersed with wild scenes from cabaret clubs one can only hope exist. The languid attention to the frenetic reality of women’s lives is palpable, a hallmark of Pedro Almodovar, an executive producer of director Isabel Coixet’s film.
It Snows In Benidorm is a joyful, chaotic ride, the plot wandering from intimate relationships to global woes. “People and the weather are unpredictable”, Peter says at the beginning of the movie. Well, let’s be grateful for the weather, at least. And maybe some people.