Trailer Spotlight: Christmas Dark Comedy SILENT NIGHT (2021)

silent-night-2021-poster

It’s almost mid November and Christmas mood is definitely in the air… in fact it’s been in the air for some time if you look at retail stores everywhere as early as late September, LOL! Well, I haven’t quite put up my holiday decorations yet but I know I will be in the mood for Christmas movie-watching soon, and this UK dark comedy definitely piqued my interest!

In true British fashion, (while the rest of the world faces impending doom), a group of old friends reunite to celebrate Christmas in the comfort of an idyllic country home.

Oh boy… it’s not exactly the most wonderful time of the year, is it? Not sure about the timing given we’re pretty much still in a pandemic. According to IMDb trivia, its star Keira Knightley said the film was finished shooting just before UK’s first Covid and they had to reshoot it in September of last year.

To be honest, I hadn’t read the premise when I clicked on the trailer… well it sure seems that way at first as we see a beautiful family doing a Zoom chat with granny and then getting ready for a Christmas dinner with friends. Though of course something seems off right away when Keira’s character said ‘Here’s to the lives that we’ve shared!’ and another says something about the ‘Queen is in a bunker somewhere filled with tins of baked beans and dog food.’ Say what?!

silent-night-christmas-dinner

Well, the Brits are known for their dark humor and what could be more wacky than a Christmas apocalypse… it’s not Santa coming down from your chimney, it’s the angel of death in the form of deadly poisonous gas. Yikes! Dark comedies are tricky, especially when you mix a hopeful, jolly time like Christmas with end-of-the-world bleakness. I read that the script was written before Covid hits, so what a twist of fate that the film ends up being released during a seemingly-endless pandemic where impending doom is not exactly that far fetched.

Not all doom and gloom though… I’m excited to see Knightley teaming up with Matthew Goode (who should be in way more movies!) … Jane Austen fans would know them as Elizabeth Bennett and George Wickham (in Pride & Prejudice and Death Comes to Pemberley miniseries, respectively). 

silent-night-movie-2021

There’s also Lucy Punch (love her in the series Vexed with Toby Stephens!), Annabella Wallis, Trudie Styler (yes, Sting’s wife is playing the grandma!) and Lily-Rose Depp as the only American in the ensemble cast. This is the feature-film debut for writer-director Camille Griffin, whose son Roman Griffin Davis won acclaims in JoJo Rabbit. Roman is in the film along with his two siblings, Gilby Griffin Davis & Hardy Griffin Davis

Well, the trailer promises something hilarious and heart-rending … just don’t expect the typical merry, feel-good holiday fare, though it just might make us appreciate the lives we still do have after seeing this movie!


Any thoughts on this trailer?

TCFF19 Review: JOJO RABBIT (2019)

JoJo Rabbit is one of those films that I’d call deceptively-flippant. If you’ve seen at least one trailer or promo clip, you’d automatically assume this would be a bizarre comedy. Well you wouldn’t be wrong either, but there is so much more in this than meets the eye. That’s the beauty of Taika Waititi‘s work, who’s quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood (though it has been a long journey for him as a New Zealand filmmaker). This work is perhaps more akin to Hunt For The Wilderpeople a comedy/drama with a young boy at the center of the story.

Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson and Roman Griffin Davis

The movie started out as rather bizarre… I mean seeing Taika playing a pudgy, halfwitted version of Adolf Hitler takes a while to get used to even after seeing all the promo photos of him in that role. I also think some of the comedic bits of the Nazi soldiers in the Hitler’s youth camp are deliberately fantastical, as is the nature of a satire. Young Johannes aka JoJo (Roman Griffin Davis) is bullied at camp, but kids are more resilient than one thinks. His imaginary friend Adolf somehow helps him cope. The story is contrasted with the kind of resiliency young Jewish girl Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) has to endure, the girl JoJo’s own mother (Scarlett Johansson) hides in her attic. Now, I feel like the less you know going in the better you’d enjoy this film, so I’m not going to reveal anything else other than what’s shown in the trailer.

Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa

Taika sure has a gift in casting. In his debut role, Roman is perfect as the innocent JoJo who’s brain-washed to hate something he doesn’t even comprehend. He has a certain natural charm about him, not as riotous as Julian Dennison was in Hunt For the Wilderpeople, but just as affecting. I love seeing Thomasin here as a smart, defiant survivor after her amazing performance in Leave No Trace, I hope she continues to get more prominent work.  The tentative bond between JoJo and Elsa is truly the heart and soul of the film. There is real pathos in the conversations between them, and also between JoJo and his mother. And so it’s wise for Taika to keep the screen time of famous actors like Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell relatively small, but with compelling and unexpected character arc. SPOILER ALERT [highlight text to read] I think by making Rockwell’s Captain Klenzendorf who runs a Hitler Youth camp as a closeted gay man is perhaps a way to humanize some of the Nazi soldiers, who might have been trapped in a society who also don’t welcome them. The only one actor who I think is rather wasted here in a deliberately role is Rebel Wilson, but she is so hilarious that she’s still fun to watch. Oh can I just say I absolutely adore fellow newbie young actor Archie Yates who plays Yorki, JoJo’s bespectacled BFF. He’s such a fantastic comic relief a la Taika’s Korg in Thor: Ragnarok.

Roman Griffin Davis and Archie Yates

I thoroughly enjoy this film and I will champion it come award season. The story is adapted from Caging Skies novel by Christine Leunens, Taika said it was given to him by his mother. I think it’s tricky to make a satire and it’s definitely not for everyone. I think some of the earlier scenes that seemingly make light of the Holocaust and how horrible the Nazis were (set in a famous Beatles’ song no less) might ruffle some feathers, and I wouldn’t blame them. But if people could get through 15-20 minutes and finally get to the heart of the story, it’s so well worth the journey. Naturally some scenes are tough to watch, even the comical ‘interrogation’ scene with the Gestapo secret police (led by Stephen Merchant) made my skin crawl. SPOILER ALERT [highlight text to read]: JoJo compiles a journal about the Jewish people that are filled with the terrible lies and brainwashing stuff the youth camp are teaching him, and he’d often hurl insulting stuff at Elsa.

JoJo and his imaginary pal, Adolf

Now as for Taika himself. Well, to say he’s the perfect Hitler would likely NOT what he’d like to hear. He’s said in interviews that he had to play the role given most actors would shy away from playing such an audacious character. But yet, even despite how flashy the role is, the filmmaker is able to make us focus on what matters–JoJo’s journey in overcoming hatred and bigotry… and better yet, learn to love someone who’s different from himself. That alone I think is quite a feat. A brilliant balancing act of tragedy and comedy in a bizarre yet poignant style… that’s definitely Taika’s unique gift of storytelling. I sure hope he gets to create more original films in addition to all his work for Disney/Marvel.


Have you seen JOJO RABBIT? If so, I’d love to hear what you think!