Starring a stellar cast, with a dazzling London setting at Christmas, Boxing Day allures us into Aml Ameen’s directorial debut, the ideal festive viewing.
Boxing Day provides us with a lot of laughs, alongside the chance to reminisce on our own family Christmases. This promising directorial debut by Aml Ameen is rooted in his own family traditions around Christmas time. Directing is something Ameen has been wanting to do for a long time, so this project felt personal, as it’s been awaited for quite a while. Boxing Day is the perfect way to lift spirits this holiday season.
Melvin (Aml Ameen) is a British author who has spent the past two years in America away from his family. He has fallen in love with an American woman named Lisa (Aja Naomi King) who he has just made his fiancée during a lovely proposal in his apartment in LA. Melvin has plans to travel back to London for Christmas, so decides to take Lisa with him at the last minute so that she can meet all of his British-Caribbean family. Little does she know that none of his family know he’s engaged, and that Melvin’s ex is still in the picture – better yet, she’s an international pop star that Lisa loves. Melvin must decide if Lisa is the one he really loves, or if his super star ex Georgia (Leigh-Anne Pinnock) is still secretly the woman of his dreams.
A star-studded cast takes centre stage, including Ameen himself in the leading role, which makes the story that little bit more special. It’s apparent Ameen has searched far and wide to cast the best actors to fit each character. Leigh-Anne Pinnock’s first acting performance has to be addressed first and foremost. Her role as Georgia is perfect for her, as she is able to showcase her talent as a singer, as well as showing the world that she can act as well as being a member of one of the world’s biggest girl groups (Little Mix). All of the ensemble pull together to make noteworthy performances, including London’s own Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Melvin’s mother Shirley, and Game of Thrones star Stephen Dillane as Shirely’s new love interest Richard.
There’s a clear influence from Love Actually in Boxing Day, but not in an obtuse kind of way. It manages to take guidance in some scenes, especially in a direct nod to Love Actually in a ‘cards on the doorstep-esque’ scene towards the end of the runtime, but the storyline is quite different. The only real similarities lie in that there’s a massive ensemble, all with their own stories behind them, all leading towards one big family. But Boxing Day is all about love, whether that is finding love in the unlikeliest of places, rekindling old love, or discovering love within yourself. And once that love has been found, sharing it with others, especially family, is unbelievably special. Melvin is proud of being with Lisa, as she’s a strong and independent woman, but his own internal struggles of wanting to better himself and not knowing how to do this are what let him down from always making the right choices.
Ameen has managed to create the first ever Black British rom-com that takes place around Christmas, and it’s obvious how proud he is for writing and directing Boxing Day. During a Q&A with Ameen post screening, his passion for his debut really shone through. He has clearly studied the rom-com genre thoroughly, noting everything that works, and everything that doesn’t quite grab the audience’s attention. By creating Boxing Day, he’s managed to fill the gap that was missing, creating something unique to release into the world. There’s an abundance of rom-coms that centre around similar themes of love with an all-white cast, so it’s refreshing to finally see something new, something that should have been created a while ago. It’s all about Ameen’s personal culture, and celebrating bringing this to life in mainstream cinema. London is showcased in what feels like its true light. Everything that we love about the capital city is exhibited, from the stunning light displays all around central London – to those big family house parties that everyone loves around this time of year. Whatever it is that you admire about Christmas, Boxing Day has it all.
Boxing Day is a joyous experience that will get audiences everywhere excited for the festive season this year. No matter your background, it’s an unmissable feature for the end of 2021.
Boxing Day will be released in cinemas in the UK on 3rd December 2021 by Warner Bros. Pictures.