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A Wonderful Christmas Time (2014)

CRUMBLIES… 4 crumblies

Two weeks into a ghastly cold and Old Jack is little more than a puffy bag of phlegm and stroke-risk coughing. I have enjoyed the disease travelling from my brain to my nose to a tickly spot just below my throat. Nurse Sally brought in flight socks on Boxing Day “to make sure you see the new year”. Nice touch. She then wheeled me to the TV room.

I was in the mood for an absolutely filthy movie about a majestically attractive grandpa saving the Miss World pageant and partying hard in the aftermath. Nurse Kelly put on A Wonderful Christmas Time (2014) instead.

This one is for youngsters and gave me an overriding sense of intrusion into their world. There was a time, many years ago, when Old Jack watched his daughter Jacketta walk away from the house, hand in hand with her beau. I shed real tears and knew for the first time that my beautiful girl would be ok in the world and that I could safely drop dead. This film took me back to that.

And it is lovely. And sweet. And Welsh. And reduced Nurse Kelly to tears and Old Jack to manly harrumphs.

Dylan Edwards (Noel – oh yes) is a dumped lad, in therapy, and testing out some soul-cleansing screams on a cliff-top when Laura Haddock (Cherie) pops by and is improbably friendly. She is in a similarly turbulent state, exiting a relationship with an actor who has exceeded her own creatively careerist luck and turned into a bit of a dick. Attraction is inevitable (mostly because Laura Haddock is stunning and plays the best kind of beauty: accessible, understanding and friendly. The whole room was in love ten minutes into the story). And they admit it with heartening honesty.

What of the plot, you say? There sort of is one, but it doesn’t really matter. The film was improvised in five days, so the actors fall back on tropes with moments of lovely freshness since they’d all just met and had to get brave quickly.

Cherie tests Noel with some challenging dates with messed up women. She doesn’t want to be the doomed next after the recent ex, but chaperones Noel through the sessions with predatory warmth. Then the dickhead actor pitches up and things gets familiar.

Old Jack moved onto a very productive cough by the last half hour of watching this, but the involuntary spasms were down to my disease and not what was on screen. The cast are funny and charming. Mandeep Dhillon (as Mandi, Cherie’s buddy) is comedy joy. In fact, Dhillon and Haddock kept taking me back to that moment of Jacketta getting on with her life…and what a foolish, fond old man I have become.

Watch this film if you have kids in their twenties: love them, but can’t quite reach them any more. This is about their world, their patterns and ways of finding love. It’s also very funny and as Christmassy a diversion from filling a bucket with snot and phlegm as you could want.

So there.

If you think sharing headphones is unhygienic, mind, be prepared…

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