There are a number of movies that show snapshots of several lives intersecting in unexpected ways: last year alone Hollywood made two that were little more than a commercialization of key holidays, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day were star propelled vacuities missing that most necessary element, heart.
In Letters to Santa, screened on the third day of the European Film Festival, heart returns to the screen through vignettes of relatable lives in search of love. It appears to be the Polish version of New Year’s Eve but what it really brings to mind is the warmth of the British comedy, Love Actually. Here, a radio presenter, an arrogant boss, a hopeful lovelorn woman, a dysfunctional family and others will find love in strange places and reaffirm the age old affinity between Christmas and love on television.
Naturally, the brief glimpses of the lives of various characters offer little chance for an extensive portrait of any one character. Still, these are believable figures and they have been given a smart script to work with. The jokes are great and timely, consisting of cracking one-liners and ridiculous statistics as uttered by a little boy: upon discovering his dad in bed with a lady he says, “100 million couples go to bed on the first night. Don’t you watch television?” Trying to convince his dad to ask a lady out, he spews another incongruous statistic: “6 out of 5 women go out with strangers.”
If that is true, I must be hanging out in the wrong crowd.
Letters to Santa though subtitled, features familiarities to the English speaking audience of Nigeria: Norah Jones’ Turn Me On and several familiar carols play- and pays homage to Hollywood: in a supermarket, a kid picks a magazine with Marilyn Monroe, the star of several Hollywood romcoms, and asks: isn’t she elegant?
Of course she is. Of course she was. And on evidence of the applause it received at the end, so is this film.