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Boxing Day

Boxing Day

Released 21 December 2012
Director Bernard Rose

Lisa Enos, Jo Farkas, Danny Huston, Matthew Jacobs
Writer(s) Bernard Rose
Producer(s) Luc Roeg, Naomi Despres
Origin United Kingdom
Running Time 91 minutes
Genre Drama
Rating TBC

Waiting for Posho.

Minimalist is one word that is quite fitting in describing the new film from British independent maestro Bernard Rose. Carried by a pair of slight but revealing performances and revelling in the mundane at every opportunity, Boxing Day is a sparse but strangely engrossing story about capitalism’s seedy underbelly.

Rose commonly draws source material from the work of Leo Tolstoy; Master and Man being chosen here (though I felt the film was more akin to the nothingness of Beckett). Basil Fenton (the name surely a dig towards the bourgeoisie) is the embodiment of capitalism; a ruthless property developer on a Christmas period scouting trip around Denver to buy on the cheap the repossessed homes of families who have fallen on hard times. A cynical and merciless businessman to the core, he is a scrooge that continually justifies his gain from the loss of others. Accompanying him on his semi-quest is bumbling but good-hearted chauffeur Nick, a British expat, struggling from a recently unravelled marriage, but still retaining a positive outlook on life. While at first the men can barely converse due to their differences, eventually they forge some sort of mutual understanding, despite a division in values. This comes in handy when the weather takes a turn for the worse and Nick’s trusty satnav (“I call her Liz”) begins to bug out. Thus begins a spiritual journey through the desolate American Midwest where Basil may discover that there’s more to life than greed. But is it too late for him to save his corrupted soul?

While nothing of major impact ever occurs and the ending is somewhat ham-fisted in its execution, the slight performances on showcase give us a depth into the polar opposite characters, and both actors (Danny Huston, Matthew Jacobs) fire on all cylinders. The film can also be very funny in parts, mostly stemming from Nick’s repeating referring to himself as “Slave”.

Apart from its Godotesque appeal, there’s very little that I can recommend about Boxing Day, nor can I say exactly why I enjoyed it. But that’s the joy of independent cinema; it can offer you something completely fresh and then leave you wondering why the hell you loved/hated it so much.

- Cathal Prendergast