Alex Jennings and Harriet Walter tempt me into my first festive film…Amazon Prime’s Your Christmas or Mine?
“It’s bloody freezing out there, I’ve got nipples like a 99 flake”
I decided a few years ago that I’d reclaim as much as my December as I could from reviewing, hence the lack of panto visits or Christmas Carols and I have no regrets. I’ve also not engaged at all with the cottage industry of Christmas films that has emerged over the last few years either, life being too short and all that, but in a desperate attempt not to seem too Scroogish, I’m having an early (for me) festive weekend.
With the presence of Alex Jennings, Harriet Walter and David Bradley in the supporting cast, it was a relatively easy decision to plump for Your Christmas or Mine? first. An Amazon Original film, I was also pleasantly surprised to see Tom Parry on writing duties, in a previous life I enjoyed many a Pappy’s Fun Club (as was) gig, so was hopeful for something of a subversive sense of humour to shine through.
Obviously that was the wrong thing to wish for, this is a steadfastly traditional as they come, in its set-up, in its humour, in its family units – they even say at one point “you don’t get to choose your family”, cue eye rolls from theys and thems across the rainbow. Hayley and James are love’s young dream, so devoted that they each decide to surprise each other with a visit for Christmas, thus both ending up at another family’s Christmas.
Asa Butterfield’s James is completely nonplussed by a working-class Macclesfield Christmas, all themed t-shirts and family traditions cheerfully led by Angela Griffin and Danny Mays. And Cora Kirk is equally surprised at James’ home situation, with just Jennings’ chilly father, Walter’s warm housekeeper and a pesky dog for company. And at both venues, certain secrets that James and Hayley have kept from each other come to light.
It is all amiable enough, without ever really being that funny. Undoubtedly there’s cliches aplenty but I’ve not yet gotten sick of those and being a Brit-flick, there is a bit of a bittersweet tinge here which saves the film from being totally too candycane sweet. The biggest suprise though is how many people it takes to make film snow, who knew…