Release Date – 4th December 2020, Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 41 minutes, Director – Ryan Hendrick
Two strangers (Natalie Clark, Kenny Boyle), after breaking up in their relationships on Christmas Eve, find themselves stranded, miles away from home, in the Scottish Highlands.
There’s a point in Lost At Christmas where Frazer Hines’ character describes himself and Sylvester McCoy’s as “two rowdy old b*ggers, giving it loudly until we kick the bucket dancing”. They spend their Christmas sipping glass after glass of whiskey in the warmth of a hotel bar in a small town in the Scottish Highlands. This seems like almost luxury compared to the situation that Jen (Natalie Clark) and Rob (Kenny Boyle) find themselves. Not only have they found themselves spending Christmas alone – Jen has found out that her boyfriend is married, while Rob’s proposal to his partner is publicly rejected, not for the first time – but the two are stranded in the thickening snow of the mountainous Highlands. It’s Christmas Eve, in the middle of the afternoon, the snow has stopped all transport, which means they can’t both get back to Glasgow, and so somehow they set-off together in the hope of getting home for Christmas, even if they will be spending it alone.
With Jen’s belief that all men are “b*stards”, and Rob getting increasingly frustrated at her otherwise festive attitude – she dons an elf costume and multiple Christmas themed bags for a lot of their journey, quoting various Christmas songs; after all ’tis the season – the pair clash to say the least. Based on director and co-writer (with Clare Sheppard) Ryan Hendrick’s 2015 short film Perfect Strangers, apparently the initial title for the feature adaptation, the film travels along lines suggested by this title. You can roughly tell where this relationship is going to go, however for a number of scenes there’s a feeling that the film is aware of its clichés, even if this feeling does seem to fade away as it goes along.
They find themselves in a small, almost deserted hotel in the middle of nowhere, and in the opposite direction to which they need to go. Aside from the stressed-out manager (Sanjeev Kohli), the regulars (McCoy and Hines) everyone appears to be present to simply escape the festive season – to the dismay of Jen. We get to know one or two of these characters as the two leads interact with each one over an extended period of time. It’s in the bar/ restaurant area of the hotel where we seem to spend most of the film’s run-time, it’s also where most of the run-time is built up. Through the various interactions, the delays in the main conversation and each event a lot almost seems to be present to push the film beyond the 90 minute mark. It slows the pacing and while not everything is unwatchable or bland it certainly doesn’t all quite click as well as the film does beforehand.
When it comes to the chuckles that this Christmas rom-com produces there aren’t a great deal, one or two mild exhales of amusement throughout – one particularly at the sound of an entire crowd roaring with laughter when a taxi company is told that Jen and Rob want to get to Glasgow on Christmas Eve. But, the film certainly isn’t bad for the most part. The supporting cast, particularly Hines, McCoy and Kholi, help to bring in some of the amusement and push the piece along a bit – even if some exchanges seem to be a bit too long, and there simply to add a sense of people coming together at Christmas. It’s this that appears to push the length of the film a bit more. Much like the two central figures have to start with this is a bit of a stagger, there are moments and it’s certainly something you can appreciate, and for the most part it’s pretty good, however there are moments where the film feels slightly lost and a bit too long that hold it back – particularly towards the end – from being truly enjoyable.
There are plenty of good moments within Lost At Christmas, and it’s not really a bad film, it’ll likely find an audience. However, its flaws do show, including its run-time and extended ideas and scenes, particularly around the film’s midpoint.