See You Next Christmas review
See You Next Christmas isn’t rom com love at first sight.
At first it seems like another small scale take on the genre that is clunky, is littered with unappealing characters and romantic leads there’s little interest in seeing end up together.
Over time the film slowly won me over. Not with any one amazing scene, but a steady string of endearing moments that make this offbeat look at an enduring love worth watching over a few cups of eggnog or hot chocolate.
It’s an annual tradition for Tom (Vin Vescio) and Annie (director/screenwriter Christine Weatherup, Watchmen) to host their Christmas party Clarksmas.
Annie’s cousin, Natalie (Elizabeth Guest), just moved into town and is attending her first Clarksmas unsure of what’s in store.
She’s showing up to make her family obligation and planning a quick exit. Meeting the love of her life is hardly on her Christmas list.
Not so shockingly, Natalie just might have made that connection with Logan (AJ Meijer), one of Tom’s oldest childhood friends.
After a passionate, but brief bathroom tryst — the start of any great love story — Natalie and Logan have a just as quick falling out seemingly determined never to make a fantastic love connection. Until next Christmas.
This is where Weatherup’s approach to a Christmas movie works so well. It’s not focused on one big Christmas bash, but the annual party over a number of years.
That allows for a nice passage of time with some important life milestone of the Clarksmas regulars from graduations, unemployment, career changes and children.
And in a refreshingly realistic take, Weatherup also includes a subsection of semi-regulars who aren’t there every year, but are prominent when they do show up.
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Natalie and Logan go through their series of changes as well. Logan comes off like the flippant noncommittal snarky guy who over the years begins evolving into an adult.
Guest makes for a fantastic lead convincingly navigating Natalie’s early years on her own. Some years she’s insecure and argumentative, while others she’s completely self-assured becoming one of the rocks in Tom and Annie’s life. Guest has a likable presence and if she never got a bigger break, would be a welcome star in these less predictable Christmas films.
One of the film’s strongest points is the portrayal of Tom and Annie’s marriage. The temptation in these smaller scale rom coms is to paint marriage as this torturous ordeal where neither party is happy.
Weatherup takes a different approach showing a desirable union where Tom and Annie are each other’s encouraging and engaged support system.
While Natalie and Logan is clearly the end game, Weatherup wisely devotes a welcome amount of screen time for Annie and Tom. It doesn’t hurt that Vescio and Weatherup have amazingly believable chemistry.
Initially, Weatherup triples down on the eccentric, quirky characters to the film’s detriment. Tom and Annie have plenty of weird friends — the kind most people would likely seriously consider including in the evite.
These are the friends that have very few social graces — they’re either too anti-social or overly chatty, hoarding food or lack basic decorum in a party setting.
But as the years (and film) progress, it’s almost comforting to see them at the party. They’re the wild cards that will say or do anything but won’t miss a Clarksmas. And without them it wouldn’t be the same.
Taking the annual approach definitely helps build the interest in characters. There’s fun in ‘catching up’ with their latest exploits from the life successes and disappointments.
See You Next Christmas takes a bit too get going, but once it does it proves to be a welcome addition enjoyable holiday treat.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Giant Pictures
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