Without ever threatening to look like a future classic, Boxing Day offers plenty of sweet moments on the big screen as the holidays loom ever closer.
It’s the tale of transatlantic love which comes a cropper when it comes flying back to London for Christmas.
Inevitably there are plenty of knowing nods to Love Actually, but in a way they are rather self-defeating, serving simply to underline the gulf between this film and a genuine all-time great.
There are aspects of Boxing Day which are fairly difficult to relate to – and there are plenty of passages which seem remarkably flat. The opening moments, in which we are slightly laboriously told what we need to know, kind of set the tone. But it remains a tour de force for Aml Ameen who directs and stars and also co-writes the film. He doesn’t quite pull it off, but the film – with a particularly lovely ending – still manages to leave you with the warm glow that we all crave at this time of the year.
Ameen is Melvin, a British writer who fled London for LA when his parents split at Christmas back home. And in LA he has become a mega best-selling author and also gained himself a glamorous and exceptionally sweet fiancée, casting director Lisa (Aja Naomi King).
The trouble is that his two lives are about to collide. To promote the book (though this is oddly forgotten once he gets there), he’s sent to London; fairly understandably Lisa wants to go with him to meet the big (rather estranged) family she’s about to gain.
Life clearly works well for him in LA, but it quickly unravels once he’s back in London where the girlfriend he suddenly abandoned without any real explanation – Georgia (Leigh-Anne Pinnock from Little Mix) – has in the meantime become an internationally acclaimed singing star.
Worse for Melvin, her assistant is his sister and Georgia is still pretty entrenched with his family. Worse still, it turns out that Georgia’s is the music that he and Lisa once romped to...
All of which puts Lisa in a pretty miserable position and leaves Melvin in a fairly headless dither, during which he even finds himself attracted to Georgia again. More accurately, he realises that that attraction has never really gone away.
Complicating it all still further is that Lisa is pregnant and has been offered a job in New Zealand, of all places. So yes, it’s a right old emotional mess that writer Ameen has dreamt up for actor Ameen, and it’s certainly intriguing to find out how director Ameen is going to get them all out of it. But it’s those flat passages of dialgoue which haunt the piece, along with an array of supporting cast amongst which a fair amount of the acting is fairly iffy to say the least. We see plenty of Melvin’s family and cousins and though Marianne Jean-Baptiste is excellent as his mum, the rest don’t add terribly much.
But it’s still a lovely performance from Leigh-Anne Pinnock in her film debut; and Aja Naomi King is even better, a genuinely delightful performance; and it does all get tied up very nicely at the end with a big bow.