February 3, 2023

This is Christmas may have the worst title of the festive movies of 2022, but it’s this year’s best Christmas rom-com. Starring Kaya Scodelario and Alfred Enoch, the Sky cinema outing has just enough sugary sweetness, coupled with a touch of gloom, and – of course – a happy ending to make it a perfect Christmas movie.

Enoch stars as Adam, the somewhat idealistic head of his own advertising agency who takes the same train from Langton to London every day, seeing the same cast of characters along the way. Chief among the commuters is Scodelario’s Emma, ​​a chef about to move to Chicago with her boyfriend.

The duo is joined by a cast of well-known British greats: Joanna Scanlan, Timothy Spall, Sarah Niles, Ben Miller and Rebecca Root – plus the well-known Alexandra Roach, Robert Emms and more. The premise is somewhat absurd, yes, but no more absurd than amnesia or a royal doppelgänger.

alfred enouch, kaya scodelario, this is christmas


Spurred on by the Christmas spirit and blind idealism, Adam suggests throwing a Christmas party for the commuters who see each other every day on this train from Langton to London. His invitation is received with reservation, but slowly but surely the various commuters get the idea, and each other.

Their relationships unfold slowly and methodically, including Emma and Adam’s. Yes, they both have partners, but it’s clear from the start that these relationships are doomed to end. Being a Christmas romcom, you know what Emma and Adam’s destination is, but the journey there includes some surprisingly grown-up stops along the way.

Each of these supporting characters also gets its own plot. Most moving is the budding relationship between Spall’s Ray and young Dean (Jack Donoghue). Scanlan’s Linda also has her own emotional arc that leans towards a trope that we won’t mention, because spoilers, but the film handles it so subtly and so beautifully that you find yourself moved by it, not annoyed.

Jack Donoghue, Timothy Spall, this is Christmas


This is Christmas balances the spoonful of sugar that is needed in these kinds of films with a good dose of reality. There are some snappy one-liners (“staring at a woman’s cleavage and nodding hello if she catches you is not knowing someone”, and an overt dig at railway privatization and Margaret Thatcher to name two) that keep the film firmly in its 21st century. century anchored. without overdoing it: there’s realistic use of mobile phone screens, but no ugly on-screen interface to distract you.

And then there’s the star power of the movie. Despite the understated nature of the whole thing, both Scodelario and Enoch are charming, earnest, and deft in their portrayals of young adults amid their various crises and self-examinations we all go through.

There’s a cringe-inducing moment of Enoch’s Adam talking to his girlfriend where the subject of wanting children comes up. While it should illustrate the gulf between them in terms of what they want, it comes across as vague The Handmaid’s Tale-y instead, a misstep we forgive.

Alfred Enoch, Sarah Niles, this is Christmas


Still, in the sea of ​​disappointing 2022 Christmas movies, This is Christmas is a surprising relief. Its measured pace (as opposed to the frenzied slapstick of some of its contemporaries) and well-rounded supporting characters create a rich tableau of modern holiday life, spanning ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The movie knows better than to try to force a story of “love everyone despite their differences, even if those differences fundamentally go against your right to medical care, equal access, etc.” (ie how to deal with your politically opposing relatives during the holiday season); we never get too deep into the politics of each character.

alfred enouch, kaya scodelario, this is christmas


In another movie, it can result in relationships that feel flimsy or superficial, but This is Christmas is aware of those political pitfalls and chooses to recognize them without centering them, and in a way that somehow works. The characters know where they fit into each other’s lives – they’re not each other’s new best friends unless that relationship bubbles up organically based on shared ethics (which we get a glimpse of later in the movie).

Balancing this with confidence, This is Christmas has an ease that sets it apart from the rest of the 2022 celebratory movie log, and we can’t wait to watch it again. And again!

This is Christmas is now available to watch on Sky.

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