‘Christmas With You’ Review: Netflix Brings Another Run-Of-The-Mill Christmas Movie
Christmas is already here! Yes, we are just in the middle of November, but companies need to start hyping up Christmas from very early on if they want to put us in the mood for some seasonal shopping. We know that Christmas is a time for family, and friends and to reflect on the past year, but for companies, it is all about how much money we are going to spend on presents and more. Cinema also has a place within this machinery, and Christmas movies offer just that. Unfortunately, the newest Netflix Christmas offering is just one more old movie done over again.
Christmas With You is a film directed by Gabriel Tagliavini and stars Freddie Prince Jr. Aimee Garcia, Grace Dumdaw, and Gabriel Sloyer. The film tells the story of a famous singer, Angelina, who is having a hard time staying relevant with the new generations. Angelina’s record company wants her to make a Christmas song to make her relevant again, but she is doubtful as she doesn’t have any new ideas. When she meets a young fan named, Cristina and her father, they might be the inspiration she was looking for.
Christmas With You is one of those movies that seemed to be made as part of a contract. How so? Well, the movie doesn’t seem to have any sort of artistic flair or the intention of telling a story that breaks the mold or ends up being satisfying in any sort of way. It is made with efficiency, sure, and the camera knows to point at where the actors are, but really, for some reason or another, the movie feels more like a school project than something that should be commercially released.
The Hallmark Channel made itself famous, or infamous, depending on who you ask, by producing cookie-cutter films and each year just remaking them with different actors. Now Netflix has fallen into the same pattern, creating movies that feel and look similar and lack clear distinctive features to talk about. Once you have seen one of the Netflix Christmas movies, you have seen all of them. This is the type of content that really hurts Netflix’s reputation as a house of weak filmmaking.
Christmas With You tries to sell itself not only as a Christmas movie but also as a romantic film, a sort of romantic comedy that could have starred Jennifer Lopez early in her career. She is even mentioned in the movie, so the influence is clearly there. However, Lopez knew how to navigate the waters of the romantic comedy field and came out on top at the end, with even her latest film, Marry Me, feeling like a better version of this movie. Romantic comedies, like many other genres out there, have fallen into a feeling of stagnation. One that seems impossible to set free from.
The first thing to notice about the film is that this is a low-budget production, which is fine; a movie doesn’t have to look like a million bucks if the story is compelling enough, but it isn’t. The story is filled with clichés, and the characters act in very strange ways. The acting overall is pretty bad, especially when it comes to the core relationship between the characters of Garcia and Prince Jr.. The movie tries to sell them as a couple falling in love, but there is zero chemistry between them. This makes every interaction between them feel extremely awkward.
The movie also has a hard time selling the fact that Angelina is a big artist in the world where the movie takes place. The movie tries to explore the world of entertainment and how Angelina, even when being so popular, still has a hard time getting the recognition she thinks she deserves. She is also a kind of fading star as young audiences are into other types of music, and she is being left behind more and more. This is all pretty interesting, but this aspect of the movie is left as a background element and nothing more.
Visually, the movie offers very little in terms of cinematic language. The director seems to be content with pointing the camera at the actors and not much else. It could be that this is the result of a tight shooting schedule, and there is really no time to create something with a bit more care, but this is what we get. A movie that plagues its stages with countless Christmas decorations and lights everything as if we were inside a department store. Lighting is such an important tool to make films look good. Sadly, this movie doesn’t really seem to care about it.
Christmas With You follows the same patterns as countless other romantic comedies and Christmas movies. The film will definitely find an audience with those people that love seeing a movie knowing exactly what will happen. There is zero sense of discovery or revelation in this film, everything feels familiar because it is, you have seen this movie many times before, and you will also be able to predict every single plot point from beginning to end. If Netflix really wants to be the next Hallmark Channel, then this is the way to go, but don’t come crying when people start churning massively.