Your Christmas or Mine? is now streaming on Prime Video.
During our teens, we find ourselves relentlessly embarrassed by our family, to the extent that we spend much of our time isolating ourselves as much as possible. For some of us, leaving home for University provides an escape and an opportunity to finally embrace our individuality, reinventing who we are for a new audience of people who will likely never meet our folks. This experience is liberating, exciting and adventurous as we define who we are, what we want and how much people know about us. But it also comes with risks; what happens if we meet the love of our life? At some point, they are bound to ask about our home town and family, right? How long can we keep up the charade of our University created existence before they find out who we really are? This is the conundrum faced by university sweethearts James (Asa Butterfield) and Hayley (Cora Kirk).
READ MORE: LOVE ACTUALLY
As James and Hayley arrive at Marylebone Station just a few days before Christmas, they know celebrations at home with their respective families await them, but they equally don’t want to leave their new life together in London. As they say their goodbyes until New Year, James runs for his train to his home in the rural South West, while Hayley runs for hers back to Macclesfield. But as they sit waiting to depart, a sudden burst of romantic energy sees them both decide to join the other for Christmas. The trouble is neither of them knows that the other has swapped trains at the last minute, and as they arrive at their destinations, James finds himself alone in Macclesfield, and Hayley finds herself alone in a small and affluent village in the middle of nowhere. What follows is a tender, charming comedy of errors as James and Hayley discover the secrets of each other’s home life and the joys of two very different Christmases.
The resulting film echoes the themes found in a range of tried and tested festive classics as director Jim O’Hanlon explores the differing experiences of Christmas in two families divided by wealth while also embracing the classic “meet the in-laws” comedy. There are splashes of the Happiest Season, Christmas with the Coopers and Four Christmases in the story that unfolds as O’Hanlon asks whether our young couple’s love will survive the festive revelations. But like any Christmas rom-com, it’s clear from the outset that love, togetherness and festivity will overcome any hurdles.
Scratch the snow-covered surface, and Your Christmas or Mine? has problems, from the slightly stereotypical exploration of the British wealth and class divide to the overly perfect finale. But this film isn’t designed to be unpicked or explored on a deeper sociological or psychological level. Your Christmas or Mine? is a classic feel-good festive rom-com that wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s the equivalent of a warm and sweet mug of hot chocolate on a cold day, and while it won’t win any awards for ingenuity or depth, it doesn’t need to; all it needs to do is give us a warm festive feeling, and it certainly does that. With a cracking ensemble cast featuring Alex Jennings, Daniel Mays, Natalie Gumede, Harriet Walter, David Bradley and Angela Griffin, Your Christmas or Mine? is a festive delight that is far superior to much of the American Christmas dross on streaming platforms. So my advice is to snuggle up on the sofa, pour a drink and let Butterfield and Kirk whisk you away for one and a half hours of warm, festive escapism.
LOST AT CHRISTMAS
Based on his 2015 short film, Perfect Strangers, director Ryan Hendrick takes us on a festive journey into the Scottish Highlands with his new rom-com, and from the opening scenes, the director’s love of Doctor Who shines through. From Sylvester McCoy to Frazer Hines and Caitlin Blackwood (the young Amelia Pond), the snowbound ClacHaig Inn often feels like a strange pub-bound Doctor Who convention. While Lost at Christmas never quite finds its voice as it meanders through the snow, it is as warm as a rich Highland whisky. There’s a delicate charm at play here, so pull up a chair and pour yourself a drink because while it may be cold outside, there’s warmth aplenty in the ClacHaig Inn.
LET IT SNOW
Your Christmas or Mine? won’t win any awards for ingenuity or depth, but it doesn’t need to; all it needs to do is give us a warm festive feeling, and it certainly does that.