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Boxing Day


Stars: Aml Ameen, Aja Naomi King, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Fraser James, Claire Skinner, Tim Ahern

Director: Aml Ameen

Director Ameen, using some of the elements from his own life, has set out to make a Love Actually/The Holiday-style film for the black London community, and in that he's certainly succeeded. It's bland, bright, and never deviates from formula. Even its feelgood factor feels fake. Still, if you fancy an overdose of saccharine for the festive season, this may give you a good time.

The film could indeed have ben called Home from the Holidays, with the director casting himself as Melvin McKenzie, who left his London roots behind to seek success in America (why?), leaving his distraught girlfriend Gigi (Little Mix singer Pinnock in her first acting role) behind.

He has now become a famous writer and acquired an American fiancee Lisa (King), while back home Gigi has progressed to being a diva-style chart-topping vocalist. Now Melvin, with Lisa in tow, is back in the bosom of his raucous London family of proud Jamaican heritage, who do not know that their divorced mum (Baptiste, whose line reading is a bit disappointing) is in love with her white boyfriend (Ahern).

Naturally, Gigi wants Melvin back (her volte-face at the end is only barely believable), but everyone here has hearts of gold inside their rough and rowdy exteriors, so it's a given that the entire cast will assemble for a happy ending. Still, the acting is mostly enthusiastically decent, London by night does indeed look magical, and Pinnock's singing is divine.

David Quinlan

UK 2021. UK Distributor: Warner Bros (BFI/Film 4). Colour (unspecified).
109 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 01 Dec 2021