Lisa Dempsey hopes Ken Wardrop’s So This Is Christmas is a good one.
If you are looking for a feel-good, hallmark Christmas film, this is not the film for you. If you are looking for a beautifully made documentary making a commentary on the overwhelming and often difficult time of year for so many people in Ireland, then please do give So This is Christmas a watch. The documentary follows five ordinary people in Ireland and how they navigate personal issues and dilemmas triggered by this overwhelming time of year.
Wardrop brings to life the personalities of the subjects in this documentary so effortlessly, combined with the breathtaking cinematography by Van Maele, this film is a joy to watch. It has meaning, emotion and humour, all accompanied by the gorgeous backdrop of Ireland at Christmas time.
I cannot stress enough however, that this is not a feel-good film. In fact I left feeling rather down and depressed. The only joy in the end is the children excited for Santa to visit, but it’s not enough to balance out the rest. I understand that this is a deliberate choice by the filmmakers, as Christmas doesn’t just suddenly become magical, which is what the Christmas films, advertisements and stories try to make us believe. It remains a difficult and depressing time for many people. But I am someone who believes that it is the job of artists to show the hope and joy of humanity, in any circumstance. In this film that is not executed, and at times things feel staged and set up to be more depressing than they really were.
In saying that, it was incredibly refreshing to see this perspective on Christmas, especially at such a relatable and local scale. I struggle to see how anyone wouldn’t be able to relate to the people in this film in some way. It is an absolutely beautiful depiction of these subjects that was executed extremely well.
Amid their everyday lives and struggles, we discover stories of extraordinary resilience and bravery.
So This Is Christmas is in cinemas from 17th November 2023.