Loreak is a lovely multi narrative, stylishly shot Basque film about a woman who suddenly starts getting flowers once a week.
Ana is a forty something woman who I think is an architect or something to do with being on a building site anyway and she seems fairly middle class so let’s go with that. Ana’s relationship with her fairly newly appointed fiancé clearly leaves something to be desired. she doesn’t share with him the news that she is peri menopausal, nor anything else. When Ana receives the first bunch of flowers she asks the fiancé if it was him, he replies ‘what for?’. Says it all really. Ana has struck up a relationship with a crane operator called Benat who is tragically killed (not in the crane). Suddenly the narrative shifts, Ana believes it was Benat sending her flowers and she starts sending flowers to his graveside which causes all the same suspicions and upset as her flowers did to her fiancé. Eventually the two narratives marry up.
A thoughtful contemplation on life, life loneliness and the power of flowers. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Itziar Aizpuru’s face is extraordinary and shows each ounce of pain in her lines. The triangular relationship she has with Ana (Nagore Aramburu) and Lourder (Itziar Ituño) is powerful. The building site is contrasted often against the flowers, dark and light, feminine and masculine. The film is beautifully shot. An unexpected pleasure.
Andrew Hulme’s first film as a director (he’s edited many including Control and Lucky Number Slevin) Snow in Paradise is assured if a little heavy handed at times. Pitched as an East End gangster film Snow in Paradise does indeed begin like that but then it veers off into something rather more interesting and brave if not completely successful.
Dave is twenty something chancer looking to make some money who persuades his decidedly dodgy uncle to let him have a go in the family business. Dave’s dad Charlie died in mysterious circumstances that are inferred had something to do with Uncle Jimmy (Martin Askew). Dave ropes in best mate Tariq and they manage to pull of a delivery and exchange of some large amounts of cash. So far so good. Except Dave thinks he can get away with ripping off his uncle and so soon his life takes a turn for the much, much worse.
Dave is a fascinating character, multi layered - a sensitive, gangster drug addict - ultimately self destructive and Frederick Schmidt embodies him with a thoughtfulness that we don’t often see in these types of films. It’s a great role for him. Schmidt is well supported by Askew as Uncle Jimmy and David Spinx and Aymen Amdouchi.
Hulme is trying to marry art house and gangster here and occasionally it works but occasionally it feels too heavy handed. Dave constantly looks at his reflection in cars, windows, and water. The point being hammered home is that he is ultimately the creator of the chaos around him. However there are some nice shots, the soundtrack is interesting and it is definitely more thoughtful and stylish than your average British gangster film. It just doesn’t always succeed.