A Wonderful Christmas Time
A Wonderful Christmas Time is set in the teeny Welsh town called Porthcawl, where direction is slight, romance is unconvincing and regionally appropriate accents are practically non-existent. It’s the second in Jamie Adams’ new romantic comedy trilogy, but so far the trilogy’s persistent themes seem to be irritating characters, unconvincing plots and a list of excuses.
The list of loose justifications include a small budget and a complete reliance on improvisation, but the plot is no less generic as a result.
Trendy late 20-somethings Noel and Cherie are having a pretty miserable Christmas until a chance encounter brings them together at the town’s nearby cliffs. At the end of a floundering relationship and not wanting to be a rebound herself, Cherie sets Noel off on a series of dates until finally they can return to each other for the long haul. The dates themselves make up a relatively small amount of the film, but they do provide some of the film’s most disconcerting content. The women – a “slut”, a demented feminist and an intense heart surgeon – are obsessed with sex and laughed at throughout by the “normal” characters.
Elsewhere, characters are achingly generic. Cherie in particular foregoes a reasonable amount of charm for a role as a Made in Chelsea-esque failed actress for whom everything is mad, nuts or crazy. Similarities to Made in Chelsea don’t stop there, with actors desperately attempting to act normally after being forced into an unlikely, yet apparently perfectly acceptable situation.
Wacky relationships abound, with Noel and Cherie’s being the least convincing of all. They bond over a shared love for cheesy action films and music: truly a romantic match for the ages. There’s some entertainment to be found in comedic performances from Dylan Edwards, Sarah Pascoe and others, but their gags are trapped on all sides by infantile derision and a lack of consistency. Some actors are far more talented improvisers than others and it’s evident in virtually every scene.
The final nail is a plot that’s throttled into place at key moments. A final act is bludgeoned into being with a momentary personality transplant from the male lead, a contrived case of mistaken identity and a handful of ill-advised drug references.
A Wonderful Christmas Time has solid actors with comedy chops, but improvisation, it seems, is more difficult than it looks. Whether it’s shot in five days or 500, a Christmas story with so little warmth, charisma or even comedy is unworthy of anyone’s festive spirit.
Joe Manners Lewis
A Wonderful Christmas Time is released nationwide on 12th December 2014.
Watch the trailer for A Wonderful Christmas Time here: