TL;DR – A film that walks the line between charming and serious like a professional.
A Sunburnt Christmas Review –
When you have worked a long time in retail, it is difficult to ‘get into the Christmas Spirit’. Which does sort of extend into those classic Christmas films. But enough time has passed to dive back in maybe, and well where best to start is the new Christmas film on Stan.
So to set the scene, we open in a hospital as a man is brought in for surgery. We find out that he is a prisoner and that he is considered dangerous. A little time later, Daryl (Daniel Henshall) tricks the local hospital Santa (Alirio Zavarce) and escapes just before the illusive Dingo (Sullivan Stapleton) arrived to kill him. Running in the Santa’s truck, he crashes into the farm of Hazel (Tatiana Goode), Tom (Eadan McGuinness), and Daisy (Lena Nankivell). He pretends to be Santa to Tom and Daisy, in the attempt to find his ‘sack’ (full of stolen money) that is buried on the farm somewhere.
This is a film that walks the line between being whimsical and quite dark. There is a genuine threat of death hanging on every moment. Then there is the emotional weight of death that the kid’s father had on the family. This is all juxtaposed with Daryl pretending to be Santa and staying in character when in front of the kids and teaching them life lessons (well heavily sanitised versions of his life). You know I have to respect Daniel Henshall because he works amazingly well with all the young actors in the film. Also, I am sure he took that football right to the face and those elbow protectors which takes commitment. All of the cast was a delight to watch. There is a sincerity level in this film that could have easily been overdone, but the filmmakers find the sweet spot. This leads to some interesting juxtapositions, like using Christmas carols as a backing track to an action scene. Or how Daryl sees Christmas references wherever he goes, making the world meet his particular world view. This does mean that there are some real shifts in tone throughout the film, but you never get tonal whiplash. [SPOILER] Though the end of the film does gloss over a substantial death which is peculiar [/SPOILER].
In the end, do we recommend A Sunburnt Christmas? Yep! This was a fun movie from start to finish. The cast was solid, it was fun but still dealt with some serious issues, and was sincere without being corny. If you like A Sunburnt Christmas, I would also recommend to you Pete’s Dragon.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of A Sunburnt Christmas
Directed by – Christiaan Van Vuuren
Written by – Elliot Vella, Gretel Vella & Timothy Walker
Music by – Amanda Brown & Damien Lane
Cinematography by – Dylan River
Edited by – Denise Haratzis
Production/Distribution Companies – South Australian Film Corporation, Screen Australia & STAN
Starring – Daniel Henshall, Sullivan Stapleton, Ling Cooper Tang, Eadan McGuinness, Lena Nankivell, Tatiana Goode, Mitchell Butel, Alirio Zavarce & Christiaan Van Vuuren
Rating – Australia: M;