Cold war espionage thriller meets Mills ‘N’ Boon (or Mills ‘N’ Boonsky) romance as Shamim Sarif brings her own novel Despite The Falling Snow to the big screen. A flat dull melodrama that should really be more at home on our small screens rather than denying a proper film of screen glory on the big screen.
Despite The Falling Snow takes us to Cold War Moscow (late 1950’s until early 1960’s), where we meet well placed Kremlin Civil Servant Alexander (Sam Reid) who meets Katya (Rebecca Ferguson) at a party. Within minutes of meeting her Alexander has fallen in love with Katya however reluctantly first she does too, but she has a secret. She is an American spy who wants to get closer to Alexander to get closer to his work but over time she does fall in love with him they get married. Over time her secret is unveiled and an opportunity for them to defect arises at a trade delegation with the USA but will Katya join her husband?
30 years later now 1992 we once again we meet older Alexander (Charles Dance) now living in New York, he learns from his niece Lauren (also played by Ferguson) an established artist is heading to Post Glasnost Moscow. She has an exhibition happening and promises she will attempt to find out what happened to her aunt but will she find the truth she desires?
We can’t really fault the acting performances of the film’s cast. As for Katya Ferguson delivered but having her play her niece too was nothing but a nonsensical making it even more confusing. Bringing in a lesbian arc with Lauren flirting with Moscow reporter Marina (Ante Traue) does nothing to enhance the film’s plot (or was it directors dig at current Russian governments stance on homosexuality?). No matter how hard the cast performed the characters felt under-developed and thanks to the 93 minute running time did they didn’t get a chance to breathe.
When your the sole source for writing a novel that’s to be adapted for the big (& small) screen you could be setting yourself up for many problems. What may start as a passion project can quickly be overcome by vanity making it extremely hard to make changes, and fell into this trap with the film. It’s common knowledge very few full book film adaptation work, most need changes to work, sadly here Despite The Falling Snow comes across as a complete mess. Another problem was the use of CGI in the film, like the ropey snow and the over-reliance for the green screen that made the streets of Moscow and those scenes along the Moskva River look unconvincing. You could clearly see money constraints were a problem and cutting corners sometimes a necessity, but not to the point to affect the film’s quality.
Even if you can’t be 100% authentic we must try our best to get close as possible to authenticity Despite the falling Snow falls right into one popular trap the accents. It’s hard to decipher whose who When the Russians sound American and British vice versa.We all know the brutal history of Cold war and the terrifying myth they possessed but the KGB agents had no fear factor to give no sense of fear living in Russia to give a reason to escape. chihuahua’s in clown suits are more terrifying. This film may deliver old school melodrama but this is one film we should be watching on daytime television, not our local cinemas.
| Paul Devine
Drama, Romance | UK, 2016 | 12A | Entertainment One | 15th April 2016 (UK) | Dir. Shamim Sarif | Rebecca Ferguson, Antje Traue, Charles Dance, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Anthony Head, Thure Lindhardt