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Boxing Day (12A)

Cast: Aml Ameen, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Claire Skinner, Aja Naomi King, Stephen Dillane, Leigh-Anne Pinnock
Genre: Comedy
Author(s): Aml Ameen, Bruce Purnell
Director: Aml Ameen
Release Date: 03/12/2021
Running Time: 110mins
Country: UK
Year: 2021

Two years after his parents announced their divorce during Boxing Day celebrations, London-born novelist Melvin McKenzie has relocated to Los Angeles with high-flying girlfriend Lisa. A wedding proposal doesn't go as planned and Lisa agrees not to wear the ring until Melvin 'surprises' her with another perfect declaration of love on bended knee. In the meantime, he faces an awkward homecoming to promote his latest book. Back on home turf with Lisa in tow, Melvin reopens old wounds.


LondonNet Film Review
Boxing Day (12A)

The origins of Boxing Day – the day after Christmas – are boisterously disputed by historians but many theories concern physical boxes filled with gifts, food or money as donations or shows of appreciation to the less fortunate, servants, tradespeople and poor parishioners. In writer, director and actor Aml Ameen’s festive frolic, December 26 is a date steeped in heartache and regret, when a son travels halfway around the world in response to his parents’ unexpected announcement that they plan to divorce…

Christmas is a time for giving… up on relationships, but like many frothy romantic comedies filled with attractive yet insecure middle-class people in the throes of competing emotional crises, this Boxing Day ultimately overflows with tidings of comfort and joy. Ameen’s script, co-written by Bruce Purnell, is disappointingly light on laughs and some of the biggest are hand-me-downs. A tense game of dominoes between love rivals is reminiscent of the combative mah-jongg scene in Crazy Rich Asians, and a male protagonist follows Andrew Lincoln’s lead from Love Actually and begs his girlfriend’s forgiveness with hand-written words of apology on a deck of A3 white cards.

The grand gesture falls flat, causing his sister to quip, “Bruv, them things don’t work no more!” The same charge could be levelled at sections of Ameen’s film, which maintains a light effervescence but never pops its cork. Ironically, it’s when characters shed the goofiness and get serious that they make the greatest impact, like when a mother articulates to a white boyfriend the invisible yet indelible mark left by her experience of raising black children in the 1980s and 1990s.

Two years after his parents Shirley (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) and Bilal (Robbie Gee) announced their divorce during Boxing Day celebrations, London-born novelist Melvin McKenzie (Aml Ameen) has relocated to Los Angeles with high-flying girlfriend Lisa (Aja Naomi King). A wedding proposal doesn’t go as planned and Lisa agrees not to wear the ring until Melvin ‘surprises’ her with another perfect declaration on bended knee.

In the meantime, he faces an awkward homecoming to promote his latest book and agrees to take Lisa with him to meet his dysfunctional British-Caribbean kin. Back in London, Melvin trades barbs with his sister Aretha aka Boobsy (Tamara Lawrance), who works as a personal assistant to old flame Georgia (Leigh-Anne Pinnock). When Lisa discovers Melvin used to date a singing superstar, the relationship falters. “It’ll be all right in the end. If it isn’t all right, it’s not the end,” Bilal soothingly advises his son.

Boxing Day is all right in the end thanks to larger-than-life performances from a predominantly British cast including the film acting debut of Pinnock from Little Mix. Ameen’s ambition exceeds his grasp when it comes to character development. He juggles the love stories of three different generations and only catches one cleanly.

– Jo Planter


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