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Review: See You Next Christmas – “Easy to enjoy”

Elizabeth Guest and AJ Meijer in See You Next Christmas

With Halloween behind us, the Christmas season is now drawing near.  With it we can expect the usual onslaught of holiday fare.  We may find ourselves watching the same films each year, or perhaps find comfort in an endless supply of romance with the Hallmark channel.  But, this year there is an indie comedy that is worth adding to your holiday docket, a charming and refreshing film that captures the sense of family found in long lasting friendship and with it, the spirit of the holidays – See you Next Christmas.

Natalie (Elizabeth Guest) is new in town, doing a post-graduate degree in psychology.  With her mom’s prompting she attends her cousin Annie’s (Christine Weatherup) annual Christmas party that she hosts with her husband Tom (Vin Vescio).  Save for the hosting couple, who dub their holiday tradition “Clarkmas,” Natalie doesn’t know anyone, and it’s pretty evident.  Seeing her alone from across the room Logan (AJ Meijer) strikes up a conversation, and after a quick witted exchange the two share some passionate moments before getting suddenly interrupted.  It’s here their hook-up ends, under not so amicable circumstances.

Ends, that is until next year.  When Clarkmas is hosted again.  See You Next Christmas follows the annual holiday get-together for years.  Like the 2011 movie One Day (but without the tragedy), this film shows this same party over the better course of a decade.  Punctuated by polaroids of their memories each year, we get to know some familiar and quirky faces like Doug (Zach Kanner) who loves to eat all the appetizers and Nina (Nalini Sharma) who always wants to show off her food table contribution to the hosts before allowing anyone else to touch her baking.  There are new friends who join the group, we see Annie and Tom’s relationship grow, we see people move.  The party that starts as a late night affair turns into an afternoon family get together, kids racing through the house.  Through it all, we are centred around Natalie and Logan and their bad timing, their awkward moments, and their search for a meaningful relationship, regardless of whether it ends up being with each other.

What I liked most about See You Next Christmas was its relatability.  We’ve all been to these parties – where you stand awkwardly on the outside of conversations or delve into a nearby bookshelf to avoid interaction (unless that’s just me and Natalie).  Writer, director and star Christine Weatherup (Bosch, Watchmen) brings a lot of clever observations to her debut feature.  She uncannily mirrors my own thoughts on the ridiculousness of New Years Eve and all the pressure that comes with it.  She expertly captures the time period of your late twenties and early thirties, when you’re stung by the loss of your younger years as your friend group evolves into couples, and then, for some, families.  There were many laughs to be found just simply in its truth.

The ensemble cast is largely excellent, though perhaps falter slightly on some of the more emotional beats.  A cameo from Marc Evan Jackson (The Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) was a welcome surprise.  Star Elizabeth Guest (niece of Christopher Guest and Jamie Lee Curtis) and AJ Meijer have good chemistry that you can’t help rooting for.  But it’s Weatherup and Vescio’s Annie and Tom that really anchor the film.  Their relationship is supportive and sweet, filled with the type of small romantic moments, glances, and inside jokes that only happen when you’ve known someone for a long while.

See You Next Christmas falls prey slightly to its repetitive nature, but overall this low budget indie is a decently executed holiday romantic comedy that’s easy to enjoy.  Weatherup shows potential, especially in her perceptive comedic writing.  It reminded me so much of a Christmas party I used to attend in the ‘before times’ that I couldn’t help but fall for its charms.  See You Next Christmas succeeds in large part due to its authenticity, and by its end develops into something that’s actually pretty darn delightful.

See You Next Christmas is available on digital platforms beginning November 9th.

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One Comment

  1. Have been looking forward to this one!

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