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“I still believe in Santa” on Netflix: the good, the bad and the ugly of the romantic comedy | REVIEW

Exactly 28 years ago, a Christmas movie appeared to stay in the hearts and memories of millions of people around the world. Its title was “Miracle on 34th Street” and it told the story of a couple of handsome lawyers (Dorey/Elizabeth Perkins and Bryan/Dylan McDermott) who, after meeting, fall in love, but in between they had to defend the supposed existence of Santa Claus in the person of the lovable old man named Kris Kringle (Richard Attenborough).

In his argument, Kringle — who played Santa Claus in a fancy toy store — generated envy on the part of the rival company, leading to a series of execrable attempts to damage its image. Everything turned into a trial where he was attributed senile dementia and other crimes. He, with his usual patience and affable smile, tried to prove that he was indeed Santa Claus. Thus, a nation was divided between those who believed in the existence of Santa Claus and those who did not.

Taken to the level of drama, “Miracle on 34th Street” showed not only a parallel between those who believed in the supposed existence of an old man who one night a year dedicated himself to distributing toys to all the children in the world, and those who never they had doubts that said character did not exist; but also another even deeper one: the division between those of us who are capable of believing or having faith in what we do not see versus those who need proof and evidence of almost everything.

This parallel is a resource that has been used on different planes, from literature to theater, going of course through cinema. Thus, already in the year 2022 a film like “I still believe in Santa”, a romantic comedy directed by Alex Ranarivelo and starring actors Christina Moore and John Ducey.

Ella (Lisa) is an introverted writer and divorced mother who works at a magazine. He (Tom) is a lawyer with good intentions and noble sentiments who, paradoxically, has been unable to forge a network of friends that prevents him from feeling alone. Perhaps for this reason, the day the two characters meet, what we would call today a ‘click’ occurs.

At 90 minutes long, “I still believe in Santa” is divided into two temporary parts. In the first, at the beginning of the year – to put it in some way – the couple begins to get to know each other. They go out, they like each other and they have one or the other kiss. Also, Tom ‘steals’ the heart of little Ella/Violet McGraw, Lisa’s daughter, and maybe together with friend Sharon (Lateefah Holder) and friend Assan (Sachin Bhatt), the only good thing in this whole story. .

It is at the beginning of the month of December that we just see another movie. Tom has spent eleven months waiting for the arrival of the last cycle of the year to reveal an unusual belief: for him, Santa Claus is not a legend nor does he exist in our hearts, but rather has a life of his own and every Christmas he distributes gifts to all the children of the planet. .

Incredibly, Lisa and Tom had never brought up the subject of Christmas until the last day of November. Perhaps that is why when she arrives at his house and discovers an indescribable multicolored decoration, she steps back and notices that the person she thought she was beginning to love was not as “serious” as she thought. A dilemma then arises: a woman who does not believe in Santa Claus versus a man who fervently believes in his existence.

And although the approach seems ridiculous from the beginning, the truth is that the film tries to develop it from different variants. And for this, it uses a calendar with assignments that will be fully fulfilled. So, we will see Tom baking gingerbread cookies, putting together Christmas trees, sledding, dressing in Christmas clothes, etc. The attempt to faithfully portray the main characters of the film is almost always redundant and even useless.

So, if he is the staunchest defender of the existence of Santa Claus, with Lisa the opposite happens. Here the reason that the writer tells Tom for “not believing” will matter little. Suddenly we have two boyfriends repeating themselves over and over again that “Santa Claus does exist” or that “Santa Claus is just a legend.” The relationship, however, remains solid until at some point it falls apart.

But the essence of Alex Ranarivelo’s film is not the only thing lacking. Its development is clearly poor and informal. From what we are told at the beginning of the story, it takes place in Denver, Colorado. From then on, if we talk about scenery, many times we don’t know what is real and what is fake. Tom walking into Lucy’s house with a chroma background is just an indication that the worst is yet to come. And the worst thing is that at that point we still have a lot of film left.

Competitions in alleged snowfalls (also here the chroma is notoriously poor), exaggerated gestures and grimaces before ‘falls’, ‘jumps’ and ‘dangers’ that in reality are not such, only confirm that “I still believe in Santa” fits into the category of Christmas canning, diametrically different from that event called “Miracle on 34th Street”.

Twenty-eight years after the premiere of Les Mayfield’s film and not even under the mantle of the powerful Netflix, the proposal of Alex Ranarivelo is capable of stepping on the heels of a dramatic, moving story, but, above all, resoundingly enduring over time.

I still believe in Santa/Netflix

Director: Alex Ranarivelo

Cast: Christina Moore, John Ducey, Violet McGraw

Synopsis: After five months of happiness with Tom, Lisa discovers something terrible: he loves the same holiday that she hates. Is it time to give Christmas another chance?

Duration: 90 minutes

Source: Elcomercio

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