Words by Gerry Otim
It’s rare that for the duration of a film I’ll find myself sitting there, in the theatre, with a genuine smile on my face. I’ve watched a numerous number of films this year. Box office films, bursting at the seams with stunts scenes and profuse with the use of CGI. Important cogs in making films such as James Bond: No Time To Die or Shang Chi and the Ten Rings, which are amazing films in their own right. Yet, I can’t say that any of them left me as happy and fulfilled as black British romcom Boxing Day did.
For years, conversations have been rife regarding the way black people are depicted within the world of TV and film. The clamour for a broader representation of black people, which goes beyond drug slanging, gun carrying and knife wielding, has been building. Shows such as Top Boy and films such as Kidulthood and Blue Story have been important moments within the sphere of black orientated multimedia. Especially Top Boy, which continues to garner viewers domestically as well as overseas. But Boxing Day attempts to deliver on the desire for something different.
The acting throughout is great simply because it was believable. The use of black-British vernacular didn’t feel forced nor over the top, in comparison to films and TV series that have preceded Boxing Day. For the most part, the conversations and interpersonal relationships between characters felt normal. Subtle current cultural references such as the casting of personality Zeze Millz and mentioning of blog page The Shadeborough made the film feel relatable and relevant. A simple, yet amusing, scene with the films sees Zeze invite Melvin onto her talk show to talk about the launch of his new book. The great thing about Zeze’s appearance was how natural and pertinent it felt watching, simply because she was playing herself.
During a recent interview on the NME YouTube channel, Ameen discussed his excitement about seeing Boxing Day on the big screen: “It’s everything to me because it’s almost like my younger self and my future self now all kind of having a dance together going ‘wow Britain has changed’. We’re the generation that are reporting on this monumental and historic thing.
Boxing Day delivers on the comedic tropes one would expect from a Rom-Com. Many of the great humorous scenes were executed by actress Tamara Lawrence, who plays the sister of Melvin and assistant to Melvin’s ex-girlfriend Georgia. The film is funny whilst touching on important topics and themes, which remain relevant today such as identity, community, absentee fathers, the difficulty of raising young, black children in England, the potential complexity of interracial relationships and the tension that exists in some quarters between Africans and Caribbean people.
The greatness of Boxing Day is the normality of the film. The film provides a broader perspective of what being black British means. It is a film that focuses on the beauty and importance of love and family, whilst touching on the turbulence that can occur within such a dynamic. It does so whilst remaining funny and entertaining. Yes, the film has some cheesy moments, but non thing that you wouldn’t expect to see within a Rom-Com film. With the build up to Christmas vastly picking up pace, Boxing Day has arrived with impeccable timing.