Lost at Christmas – Review

Directed by Ryan Hendrick

Written by Ryan Hendrick & Clare Sheppard

UK/2020/100mins

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Flip through the channels in the coming weeks, and you’ll likely hear many a herald angel sing, a few french hens and a lot of American accents celebrating Christmas shenanigans. And whilst we could possibly be biased here at Corr Blimey, it’s an awfy rare treat to hear a Scots accent from, well, a Scot in a Christmas film. Based on the successful short film Perfect StrangersLost at Christmas transports the spellbinding magic of the festive season to the home of wilderness, mirth and snow – the Highlands, and Fort William. 

As with the best of Christmas tales, things start rather bleak for our pair. Two perfect strangers, Jen and Rob, each have their most disastrous of beginnings to the Yuletide festivities as the pair discover their partners have entirely different plans and expectations on Christmas Eve. Stranded in the Highlands, as the blankets of snow envelope the rolling hillscapes, Jen and Rob endeavour to aid one another in getting back to the civility of Glasgow. But would it really be Christmas without plot convenient blizzards? Trapped at the Inn (no, seriously), one which seems to cater directly to those looking to avoid the holiday season, Jen and Rob begin to realise that frozen in this moment, away from the world and stresses of normal life that these two strangers may have a lot more in common than they first thought.

Their chemistry at first is by the books, expected for this sort of film. They have their misunderstandings, grievances and cute moments but once arriving at the Inn, Natalie Clark and Kenny Boyle open themselves up to an unexpected depth. Together the chemistry is at first jarring, serving up the shmaltzy angle with which we have come to be familiar. Gradually, and mercifully, there is a companionship before a romance. Clark’s upbeat nature compliments Boyles pessimism, and Hendrick and Clare Sheppard’s writing means that these often trope-like features have merit in their usage outside of character traits.

The ludicrously adorable pair of Sylvester McCoy and Frazer Hines such minor roles, but make-up for a wealth of the enjoyment. Particularly McCoy’s natural ability to portray both jester and serious, a performer with a known background for comedy, who is also significantly capable of drama, even if it does dip into the melodramatic variety. Lost at Christmas is at its finest is when enabling the cast to indulge themselves as the naturally humorous and charming lot that they are.

In particular, the authentic delivery of Sanjeev Kohli’s role as the innkeeper and banter with McCoy and Hines. Other minor cast members fair less well, with a thin fairy-dusting of intentions to offer more to their one-dimensional roles, but the likes of Clare Grogan can transform a rather stiff Grinch of a part into something broader in scope when able.

Set to the composition of Stephen Wright, the film’s biggest hindrance could be a biggy – the score doesn’t feel altogether festive. For some, this could be a killer. And while the colour palette reflects the traditional greens and reds of a Chris Columbus Christmas, it can feel momentarily fabricated.

But, there’s little wonder why one wouldn’t mind being trapped in this part of the world. Save for the lack of signal and good weather, John Rhodes’s cinematography understands the landscape of Scotland. Where the film caters to a general audience for its art direction and internal shots, it more than makes up for in grandeur with wide-open frames allowing for a sense of scale as Jen and Rob aimlessly wander.

And what it boils to, is a genuine moment of clarity and refreshment. In a year where the festive season will undoubtedly look different to many of us – to celebrate in whatever way we can, even if it’s not how we expected. And perhaps more poignantly, in these final moments following a whirlwind of romance detached from the stigmas of reality, Lost at Christmas takes a curious, but becoming option in how it closes. It may not ring of tinsel and baubles, but it’s a sobering moment which leaves an impact of truth. 

This is without question a shortbread tin of a film. But guess what? People love shortbread. They adore Christmas, and in leaning enough into the expectations those outside of Scotland would hope for, but not so heavily that those of us within the country to have Brigadoon flashbacks, Lost at Christmas has a clear heart, charm and message. Forge a new Christmas love closer to home this year, and come to realise that though this may be a Christmas like no other, it is the new connections and memories we make along the way, and not so much how we celebrate, which keep us going.

Lost at Christmas will be released in cinemas December 4th and will be available for digital download December 7th.

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