Not quite your usual Christmas-spirited movie for the festive season, Boxing Day is the slow-burning, yet commanding drama directed by acclaimed filmmaker Bernard Rose (Candyman, Mr Nice).
An adaptation of Tolstoy’s Master and Man, Boxing Day follows Basil (Danny Huston, 21 Grams, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), an American man prepared to leave his wife and children the day after Christmas, and, perhaps more horrifically, to trick an elderly lady into signing over the church foundation fund with promises of making more money back.
With the assistance of his hired chauffeur, Nick (Matthew Jacobs), the two set off in search of foreclosed houses where Basil hopes to make a few cheap purchases, a quick renovation, and an even quicker sale for a huge profit.
As their journey begins, the personalities of the two men are explored in an intimate portraiture which is at times rather awkward to observe. Basil is portrayed as ruthless and determined, but with a hint of vulnerability, made evident in his panic and self-doubt when things ultimately come a cropper. Nick, on the other hand, is annoying, unable to navigate and has a fondness for giving his opinion. However, his dry and sarcastic wit does add humour to the otherwise sober air of Basil.
Boxing Day is full of suspense; close-ups of car wheels spinning on ice while the car’s engine is aggressively revved contain monumental amounts of tension, and added to the infuriating character of Nick, suddenly the film isn’t as slow-burning as it first seemed. There is a gentle piano music accompaniment at times which, teamed with some beautiful scenes of snow-covered Denver, brings a much-needed sense of calm when the anticipation gets too much. The steady rise and fall of emotions that Rose has brought to Boxing Day is where its greatest accomplishment lies.
Steeped in subliminal messaging, Boxing Day is an intelligent, thought-provoking film that allows the audience time to truly get to know the characters. The film really is worth watching, and even the dodgy camera focus and movement (which will leave you somewhat dizzy in parts) can be forgiven, because on the whole, this film is a success.