★★★★★ Directed by: Charlotte Wells Written by: Charlotte Wells Starring: Jamie Robson, Michelle Duncan, Lewis McGowan, Thoren Ferguson, Ruth McGhie Little Wing Film Festival Review by: Chris Olson
Affecting and terrifically layered, Charlotte Wells’s short film Blue Christmas is a stark reminder that Christmas films can still be hugely poignant. Her kitchen sink drama approach to her movie is perfectly crafted, with a phenomenal central performance from Jamie Robson.
Robson plays a debt collector who decides to use his Christmas Eve as the perfect opportunity to come knocking on the doors of those who owe the bank. Whilst his methodology is seen as scandalous by the local community, few know that the real reason this character wishes to be chasing cash on a cold winter's day is to avoid being at home with his wife (Michelle Duncan), who suffers from mental illness.
Set in the late sixties in a blustery Scottish coastal town, Blue Christmas creates a formidable atmosphere from the start, one which becomes increasingly dramatic as the story progresses. There is copious amounts of drama on offer, but also superb moments of comedic relief and compelling tenderness. The mise en scéne is brilliant presented, from the poorer living rooms of our protagonist’s prey to the breathtaking climax of the short film which will strike a chord with even the hardiest of audience members.
As a big fan of Christmas movies, it was incredibly refreshing to see a short film tackle the season in a way which paid homage to the genre’s trappings whilst delivering a story which was immensely relevant and hard-hitting. The darker undertones of the piece are not done to starkly contrast the festive season, instead, they are superbly combined to reflect a moving (and often forgotten) notion: Christmas is a time where family gets a very central focus whether we want it to or not, and can often unearth raw scars we pretend not to see the rest of the year.