December isn’t even here yet and we’ve already cracked open the Christmas movies. Which TBH is something we’ve both been gagging to do for a while now. It seems most of the world is trying desperately to leave this year behind by ushering in an early festive season – and why the fuck not, eh?
This week’s pick has some serious LGBT+ messaging and I am here for it. Will it warm the soul on this dreary Sunday afternoon though? Let’s have a look-see.
A New York Christmas Wedding (2020)
If you knew you could do it over, would you?
As her Christmas Eve wedding draws near, Jennifer is visited by an angel and shown what could have been if she hadn’t denied her true feelings for her childhood best friend.
Jennifer (Fairweather) has recently changed career direction, from a high-powered finance job to veterinary assistant (because all good Christmas protagonists need a caring role to make them remotely likeable). She’s engaged to the dashing David Wilks (director Otoja Abit) and is struggling to keep it together with her overbearing mother-in-law Alison (Tyra Ferrell) – who’s trying to strong arm her into a Christmas Eve wedding.
We all know from the opening exposition that Jen had a best friend – Gabrielle (Adriana DeMeo) – who passed away not long after a dramatic falling out between the two of them. The fight on the surface appeared to have been about a boy and a broken promise but we all know there’s more to it than that. Will we ever get to the bottom of it, I wonder?
One night after blowing out of dinner with the in-laws, Jen goes for a night time run and meets the stunning Azrael (Cooper Koch). The pair share a couple of heartwarming moments and that’s that. Except it’s not, is it because meetings like this around Christmas tend to be more serendipitous than that. We all know the rules.
Obviously Jen wakes up the next morning in another life, the one in which Gabby is very much alive and well – and now her fiancé – and her dad is also there having passed away IRL. While this all takes a little adjustment, Jen leans into her new life well, despite initial push back from the church they want to marry them and ex-boyfriends who think lesbians are just props for bulking up threesomes.
The church, run by Father Kelly (Chris Noth) is still stuck in its ways re: gay marriage and while Kelly loves the girls, whom he’s known for most of their lives, he’s still reticent to push boundaries too hard just yet. Until Gabby gives him a passionate speech and the pope himself blesses a gay priest on the news, that is. Will this lead to the wedding Jen was meant to have?
Meanwhile, there’s still the issue of this all being an elaborate fantasy with a rapidly pending deadline – and Jen has a lot of thinking to do. With the help of her new pal Azreal will she make the right decision – and more importantly, by decree of Crimble magic, is she even allowed to have a do over?
My dudes, it’s the festive season so it’s practically law that we suspend our disbelief and buckle in for the ride.
Love Deeply. Trust Your Heart. And Be Brave ~ Azreal
Blimey. Well, first up it’s so wonderful to enjoy an LGBT+ Christmas romp by a Black director this year- there are not enough of them and I want to consume them all like Quality Street.
And I do appreciate the sentiment of this movie, it’s beautiful – if slathered on thickly with a trowel. The messaging is important but it screams of something not altogether genuine and I don’t like that feeling. It’s like a sub-genre of religious propaganda – but pointed in the right direction? However, it’s true, despite Father Kelly’s slightly icky “Love is love” speech – love really fucking is love – and it means well.
The central couple – Jennifer and Gabrielle – feel authentic and are by no means the cookie cutter couple you usually find in festive movies. They’re flawed human beings who love each other and long to share a life – and that’s that.
There’s a very awkward scene in which Noth gives his speech and then calls out all the gay couples in the congregation and I wonder how he knows they’re gay – and whether they gave their permission to be outed in such a way? (Also the concept of having a wedding sprung on me with no warning is the stuff of nightmares).
The end is a bit of a mess as we find out more about teenage Gabby’s fate in real time – and in turn, who Azreal really is – and it’s a doozy. It falls apart a lot here unfortunately, and this is where it lost points from me.
I wanted to love it and I have to admit, I watched this last week of my own volition and then again for the Blog – and I enjoyed it more the second time round. Although, that fucking Christmas bauble at the end, if you know you know.