Boxing Day – Film Review
by Brian Merriman
Director – Aml Ameen
Writers – Aml Ameen, Bruce Purnell
Stars – Aml Ameen, Yasmin Monet Prince, Aja Naomi King, Leigh-Anne Pinnock
Warner Brothers offers us a seasonally titled ‘Boxing Day’ for holiday enjoyment. Loosely based on writer, director, and star Aml Ameen’s own life, ‘Boxing Day’ follows Melvin (Ameen), an up and coming British author living the dream in America. His latest book success sees him return home unexpectedly after an absence of two years, to London for Christmas accompanied by his new American fiancée, Lisa (Aja Naomi King), to meet his extended British-Caribbean family.
It’s a movie in the ‘Notting Hill’, ‘Love Actually’ and ‘Four Weddings’ genre. Bruce Purnell joins Ameen on the screenwriting credits and they deliver a glorious galaxy of supporting and cameo roles – so many in this exuberant extended family, it as taxing for the audience as it is for Lisa to keep up with who is who.
The plot centres around three love triangles. Melvin the central character, is in love with Lisa and had been in love with chart-topping Georgia (Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock), who still carries a torch. His Mother Shirley (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) was cheated upon by charismatic husband Balal and has fallen for Richard. In the meantime, Melvin’s younger brother Josh (Sheyi Cole), who has inherited his father’s charisma and his Mother’s integrity, falls for his cousin’s girlfriend. These love triangles and numerous subplots evolve throughout the screenplay, focusing on this affluent talented family group in London.
Ameen’s credits on this film are prolific. He produces, directs, writes and stars and is clearly multi-talented. This commitment doubtlessly brings ‘Boxing Day’ to our screens and that in itself is a huge accomplishment. Strangely, the only character not served well by this multi-faceted real-life person is the character of Melvin, inspired by Ameen. There is a rich diversity amongst the cast. Even the many cameos make their mark, but what remains elusive throughout is why do two talented, accomplished, beautiful strong women fall for the rather insipid Melvin? He demonstrates no particular trait that would convince he was a potential ‘life partner’ for either of these gifted women. His character lacks development and Almeen based the screenplay on his own life story. Melvin has all the flaws of his Father but none of the charisma or self-awareness. It remains a mystery as to why he is in such demand.
The film’s main weakness is the connection between Melvin and the audience. The film begins by stating it’s about ‘disconnection’ and it is, but it is resolved for many of the other characters. Melvin remains somewhat bland in the galaxy of energy, colour and passion that is effusive throughout the extended family scenes which brighten up the screen with fun and humour, aided by a vibrant soundtrack.
Sometimes, it is true that an anti-hero ‘gets the girl’ in love stories, but the basis for Melvin’s success remains opaque throughout. However, add to that the opulence of setting, seasonal snow and Christmas lights, along with the final reconciliation of the three love triangles and you have a movie that will no doubt pepper the Christmas TV schedules for many years to come.