Director: Aml Ameen
Writer: Aml Ameen and Bruce Purnell
Starring: Aml Ameen, Yasmin Monet Prince, Aja Naomi King, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Claire Skinner, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Lisa Davina Phillip, Fraser James, and Sheyi Cole
Aml Ameen’s directorial debut is Boxing Day, which he also co-wrote and stars in, a new rom-com that celebrates British-Caribbean culture with a very familiar plot. It’s a warm Christmas film that will have you laughing at points and emotionally hooked by the end.
Melvin (Aml Ameen) is an actor turned author, who moved to America to escape his family after an incident on Boxing Day a couple of years ago. To promote his new book, he travels back to the UK with his new fiancé Lisa (Aja Naomi King), and it’s the perfect time to introduce Lisa to his family and all the history that he hasn’t told her about.
The plot in this film is fairly typical of rom coms. It starts off with everything being happy and then troubles happen, before the big finale. There really isn’t anything new in the actual story, although Ameen does take it to a much darker place for his main character. Melvin hasn’t told Lisa about so many things that happened, including that his ex is music superstar Georgia (Leigh-Anne Pinnock), who is also a close friend of his family. Lisa comes to London expecting a magical Christmas and doesn’t have any idea of what she’s walking into.
The family are very welcoming to Lisa, instantly accepting her as one of their own, the only hesitation is understandably Georgia, who hasn’t really gotten over Melvin, and is also going through a very public and humiliating separation. Georgia and Lisa obviously clash massively when they find out who the other is.
The first twenty or so minutes of the film aren’t very funny. It isn’t boring, but it takes a very long time to settle down and then it gets good. As Lisa’s gets to know Melvin’s family, that’s when it starts to get funny. They’re all very charming and likable people and the small Christmas party they hold is fun and one of the highlights of the film.
Melvin isn’t the only one with secret. Lisa is pregnant, which she is too nervous to tell Melvin about, and she has just been offered a dream job in New Zealand. It feels like she has these secrets purely, so we don’t feel that Melvin is the only bad person in the relationship, but his are a lot worse. He kisses Georgia at the mid-point of the film, claiming it was a mistake. It really does feel that the inevitable happy ending isn’t justified for Melvin.
Despite some flaws, Boxing Day, is still funny and an entertaining film. It’s nothing that original or revolutionary but it’s fun. The supporting characters are excellent and it’s a true celebration of family.
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