Saturday, 5 January 2013

Boxing Day

This blog has a little bit of a confusing title. Whilst I'd love to think that my Boxing Day this year was blog worthy, the fact is that it was a little bit boring (although we did manage to do a jigsaw puzzle and I ate some cheese). Instead, the Boxing Day that I'm referring to is writer-director Bernard Rose's film which is currently enjoying limited distribution at cinemas in the UK. We were lucky enough to catch it at the Hyde Park Picture House - and what a treat it was.

Based on the 1895 short story Master and Man, Boxing Day is the third in a trilogy of Rose's adaptations of Leo Tolstoy's short stories. It succeeds Ivansxtc (2000) and The Kreutzer Sonata (2008).

Boxing Day follows the plight of Basil, a Los Angeles property speculator (Danny Huston) and Nick, his driver (Matthew Jacobs). After hustling an elderly lady out of her church funds, Basil (the master of the story) abandons his family on Boxing Day and hot-foots it to Colorado to tour re-possessed properties in the hope of buying them on the cheap. Nick (the 'everyman' of the tale), is tasked with driving Basil around in a Mercedes in thick Colorado snow. The pair continue to travel - at Basil's insistence - until night descends, the Sat-Nav (which Nick fondly names Cynthia) stops working, the weather closes in, and (without giving too much away) the master-man dynamic suddenly becomes an irrelevance.

Boxing Day is defined by exceptional dialogue and tension between Huston and Jacobs. Humorous, touching and full of political relevance and religious allegory, the pair give mesmerising and entirely believable performances throughout. Rose's jumpy editing and the film's hand-held camera work occasionally detracts from the dialogue and pace, but on the whole the film is beautifully shot and directed.

All in all, it's a film that's really worth catching if you can - either in the cinema or on demand here.

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