FILM REVIEW: Lost at Christmas

Reviewer: Stephen Bates

Director: Ryan Hendrick

Writers: Ryan Hendrick and Clare Sheppard

When Jen asserts “no one should be alone at Christmas”, we have to assume that she is not giving out advice for Christmas 2020. Jen, newly split from her two-timing boyfriend, finds herself lost in a blizzard in a remote Scottish inn and alone apart from eight strangers. The perfect set-up for an Agatha Christie mystery perhaps, but Lost at Christmas keeps all its characters alive and actually delivers a slightly limp romcom in which clichés fall more thickly than the Highland snow.

Ryan Hendrick’s film is an expanded remake of his award winning 2015 short Perfect Strangers. With an already slender plot, the transformation from 26 minutes into 100 minutes inevitably results in strains. Rob (Kenny Boyle) has jus been jilted by his childhood sweetheart when he encounters the forlorn Jen (Natalie Clark) at a railway station. It is Christmas Eve, the railway line is blocked and both need to get home to Glasgow. They hit the road, the scenery looks beautiful and the mismatched couple, scatterbrain Jen and grumpy Rob embark on adventures which promise to produce screwball comedy in vintage Hollywood style, until they reach The Clachaig Inn (a real location).

The only room left at the Inn is, of course, a double. Presided over by landlord Sid (Sanjeev Kohli), locals Ernie (Sylvester McCoy) and Frank (Frazer Hines) prop up the bar and swig down the whisky, bringing happy memories of days when such pleasures did not have to be accompanied by a “substantial meal”. The screenplay by Hendrick and Clare Sheppard is not strong on wit and invention, preferring to rely for its comedy on Scottish character eccentricities, reminiscent of classics such as Whisky Galore! and Local Hero. An appearance by Clare Grogan, star of Gregory’s Girl, provides anotherlink to a mini golden age of Scottish film comedy.

John Rhodes’ cinematography gives the film a handsome look and Stephen Wright’s lush symphonic score has an old-fashioned feel which suits its sentimental, traditional values. Lost at Christmas is a romcom that is stronger on the rom than the com, but, being the season of good willa fair summary could be that the film’s amiability just about eclipses its predictability.

On release from 4 December 2020

The Reviews Hub Score

Amiable festive cheer

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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