The directorial and writing debut of actor Aml Ameen, Boxing Day stars Ameen as Melvin, a British author living in America with his fiancée, Lisa (Aja Naomi King). A TV interview in London brings Melvin back home to London after two years away, and Lisa wants to use the opportunity to meet his family, despite his misgivings surrounding the circumstances of his move to America. The family gets together for Christmas, and, as they tend to during the holidays, things escalate, testing relationships old and new to breaking point.
There are a lot of moving parts in this story, which explores a series of complex and messy relationships over its 110-minute runtime, as well as touching on important socio-political talking points like race and gender. The writing can be a little cringe-inducing in places, but in a way that works with the tone and general storytelling intent, and makes it generally hard to stay mad at. The script also boasts some pretty strong comedic chops, with some great jokes that work well to both exacerbate and provide some comic relief to the constant family drama, keeping things constantly interesting and compelling.
Where the writing falters, it is also picked up by a very talented ensemble cast, who give the piece much of its unique and engaging energy and breathe life into the complicated family dynamics at play. While some character arcs feel as if they were left by the wayside, for the most part every member of the cast brings something unique and fun to the table, making for a vibrant and diverse narrative tapestry.
Overall, Boxing Day is a solid debut for Ameen as a writer and director. It’s perhaps not the most polished cinematic experience, but the production as a whole works the rough edges into part of its charm, giving it a scrappy and endearing feel that works well with its narrative. Nothing ever goes perfectly during the holidays and Boxing Day is no exception, but it still manages to be a very fun and, importantly, sincere, festive time despite – and because of – its flaws.
Boxing Day is released nationwide on 3rd December 2021.
Watch the trailer for Boxing Day here: