[Critique] “A more or less successful December 23”

Modeled on American rosy Christmas movies, December 23 is not intended to be a highly sought-after auteur film. This in itself is not a sacrilege: the holidays have never been the time of year when our tastes are the most sophisticated. The fruit cake is not high gastronomy, any more than the boring All I Want for Christmas Is You is a great song. Nevertheless, in order to claim the title of guilty pleasure, even if it means rising to the rank of tradition, the ” Love Actually Québécois” might have needed a better script.

December 23 wants to be a choral film, where we follow a panoply of characters who undergo any intrigues on this eve of Christmas Eve. All these adventures are interrelated, but the problem is that they do not all arouse the same interest. The scenario of India Desjardins seeks to cast too wide a net to appeal to the greatest number. It must be said that great commercial expectations weigh on December 23as the film industry continued to suffer from the vagaries of the pandemic this year.

However, the eater pop corn average risk of getting lost in this tote. Some stories quickly fall flat and stretch unnecessarily. Several characters lack depth when others hook us from the start, which creates a certain imbalance. The film, presented as a romantic comedy, suffers from this. Jokes sometimes miss their mark. We laugh too little, we smile at best. Through this string of characters, we even come to forget the love story, which gives less weight to the syrupy scene of the final kiss.

Stéphane Rousseau, in the skin of a singer has-been and unfaithful, could almost have been removed from the editing. We could also have done without Bianca Gervais and Christine Beaulieu, who are desperately looking for their dog in the Château Frontenac for a good part of the film, without that adding much to the story. Fortunately, the baby-boomer couple played by Guylaine Tremblay and Michel Barrette saves the day. Their tasty replies will resonate with many families as the holidays approach, this period often synonymous with intergenerational unrest in Quebec.

Guylaine Tremblay is very fair in the skin of a neurotic mother who wants her Christmas with her millennial children to be more than perfect. Even if it means complying with the least requirements of the time: grain-fed turkey or even gluten-free cookies. To the chagrin of her husband, resistant to change, the type to get annoyed that we now say “Holidays” rather than “Christmas” to accommodate some.

A tailor-made role for Michel Barrette. The scene where his character is confronted with an ambulance woman wearing a headscarf, but celebrating Christmas, is particularly successful. Undoubtedly the funniest moment of the film, the most thoughtful too. Like what, we can sometimes do both at the same time.

Yes, December 23 is an American-style Christmas film which, by definition, is above all intended to bring people together, even catch the eye. But the film would have benefited from venturing on more slippery tracks. Lightness does not have to rhyme with emptiness.

December 23

★★ 1/2

Comedy by Miryam Bouchard with Virginie Fortin, Bianca Gervais and Stéphane Rousseau. Quebec, 2022, 101 minutes. Indoors.

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