Looking at the amount of Christmas films being made every year, it is safe to say that it is almost like an industry in itself. They are sugar-coated with ideas of togetherness and often fall under the umbrella of ‘family-friendly films’. The new Netflix release – ‘Christmas with You’ is another addition to the same list. It has the same warm, cosy feeling that has always been a trademark of this genre. This feel-good screenplay is written by Paco Farias, Jennifer C. Stetson, and Michael Varrati while it is directed by Gabriela Tagliavini. The film stars Aimee Garcia, Freddie Prinze Jr., Deja Monique Cruz, and Gabriel Sloyer in the lead roles.
Christmas with You (2022) Netflix Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
Angelina (Aimee Garcia), a pop star, who once enjoyed her years of fame, is now seeing her popularity fading with every passing day. With the music industry preferring younger talent, and the audience wanting their music to be consumed in a certain way, she is not getting the spotlight that she was once used to. Whenever she goes out on the stage, she performs only her old songs. Her assistant, Monique (Zenzi Williams) picks up on that and suggests she create a Christmas-themed song as per the industry demands. The audience expects something new and fresh from every artist. So, a Christmas song can reclaim her position of fame owing to the nature of such music quickly gaining popularity.
However, not having created new music for a while, Angelina struggles to create such a track. She has not experienced the spirit of togetherness or love expected in such music, which also makes it hard for her to work on it. Meanwhile, she sees Barry (Lawrence J. Hughes) from their records, preferring a young talent named Cheri Bibi (Nicolette Stephanie Templier) instead of her, for all such gigs. Meanwhile, Ricardo (Gabriel Sloyer) – a Spanish telenovela star, who is her boyfriend, mostly for the clout looks for various ways to bring both of them into a discussion. Getting tired of all of these people, one day, she decides to leave the studio.
Along with Monique, Angelina starts driving outside the city. While the number of her fans is fading, she notices one loyal fan of hers – Christina (Deja Monique Cruz), who has a great voice and singing skills. She decides to do a meet-and-greet at her school since she could see her name and the school’s location from her Instagram post. While Monique is reluctant to the plan at first, she eventually agrees to it. They go to Christina’s school and she gets to meet this pop star in person, along with her father – Miguel (Freddie Prinze Jr.), who is the school’s music teacher. While Angelina had planned to leave right after meeting her, the snowfall makes Miguel advise her to wait for a while. He invites her and Monique to their home to stay until it settles down.
Back at his home, she finds a sense of comfort that she rarely finds in her present life. That makes her invested in these people, who are as simple as she once was. For maintaining her slim figure, as expected of her from the music industry, she only takes beans during their meal. However, Christina’s Abuela insists on her taking the soup and upon drinking just one sip, she falls in love with it. Everything keeps reminding her of her fond memories of such cosy living.
Later at night, Angelina sees a composition written by Miguel and starts playing it on his piano. She finds the melody impressive and starts impromptu working on it. While playing it, she realizes that this music could help her with getting the Christmas song as Monique suggested and gain the spotlight. As a result, she asks Miguel if he would like to be her co-writer for his song. He finds this request unbelievable. Why would a pop star like her want to work with a non-professional like him? She however keeps insisting on her, to the point of revealing the urgency of her need due to her creative block. So, he agrees to it.
Over the next couple of days, they keep thinking of the perfect lyrics for their melody that can evoke a Christmas feeling. While working on this track, they get closer to each other and Monique notices their romantic entanglement. Meanwhile, neither Ricardo nor Barry knows where Christina is. Seeing a photo posted by her on her social media, Ricardo learns where she is and heads toward their house. Christina’s Abuela gets delighted to see him (her favourite telenovela star). But, Angelina falls into a conundrum between choosing a place that is creatively nurturing and a creatively binding city. Besides creativity, there is another reason for keeping her stuck in this small town. She realizes it a little later.
After returning to the city, Angelina starts working on her gala performance. Since she had worked on a Christmas song with Miguel, she decides to play the same on the piano. She also invites both Miguel and Christina to the gala as her VIP guests. The father and daughter get starstruck by the glitz and glamour of this event. While she is about to start performing on the stage, Angelina invites Miguel to play the piano beside her. He is initially scared to go up on the stage in front of a big crowd. However, he eventually goes there and she sings a romantic song with all the romance imbued in it.
After the performance, Angelina gets her moment of fame yet again when everyone starts swarming around her instead of Cheri Bibi. Even Barry offers her an SNL spot that he had earlier booked for the young star. She sees this opportunity but does not wish to leave Miguel behind. So she goes out of the auditorium to find him and asks whether he would like to go to this performance with her. He rejects this offer since it is Christina’s Quinceañera. She forgot having promised to be there herself but still invites him to be present in the following tours with her as her pianist. He finds that request hurtful since he expected the request to be because of their romance, not business.
Christmas with You (2022) Netflix Movie Review:
A Christmas family film that manages to strike a chord or two despite a myriad of cliches
Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is quite easily my favorite Christmas film. While it is seeped into optimism and shows a cynic’s journey toward understanding the value of togetherness, it uses its coming-of-age trope in a way that does not feel insincere. We believe in the chap’s struggle to make peace with his present. Besides, it also has values and morals with an idealism that may feel utopic but has a well-intentioned charm to it. Christmas with You has some of these elements, although not executed with nearly the same level of wisdom.
We see a pop star revisiting her past and in a family, finding ‘herself’. She senses the value of togetherness in this family and their humble way of living. The extravagance of her life as a star gave her fame and glory but left her away from genuine warmth and compassion. A message, that is conveyed through numerous narratives is revisited in Christmas with You, which is filled with cliches of romance besides the genre tropes of a Christmas / feel-good film. The film uses the ‘rich girl falling in love with a poor one’ trope as ‘a popular woman falling in love with a simpleton’.
So, when we are very well aware of the film being another formulaic affair, it becomes of utmost importance whether it still manages to make you feel something. The chemistry between Aimee Garcia and Freddie Prinze Jr. is occasionally convincing to buy into the idea of these two people falling in love. The arc of romance is generic, which can be unflattering because of the familiarity with all the narrative tropes.
However, the individual performances by both actors are certainly evocative, which makes the film impactful at times in a festive sense. The inherent nature of such films being directly manipulative is quite evident. Despite that, Christmas with You manages to strike a chord or two due to the earnest efforts of the performers.
Christmas with You (2022) Netflix Movie Ending, Explained:
Do Angelica and Miguel reunite after the gala?
Miguel returns from the gala to his home, while she keeps going along with her routine. Soon after, on the day of the SNL performance, Cheri Bibi pops by and mentions her admiration for her. She also notes that she expected her to perform with her boyfriend. Angelina assumes she means Ricardo, who recently broke up with her, publicly. However, she means Miguel. That makes her want to leave everything behind and head right towards the person who gave her this comforting feeling after a long time.
She goes to their town to attend Christina’s Quinceañera and performs one of her older music tracks that Christina is a fan of. She gets delightfully surprised to see the pop star making it to the ceremony. Right after the performance, Angelina and Miguel have their own moment of bonding, right after which, they share a passionate kiss.
In the end, they all start living as a happy family together. While the family gets their big wishes fulfilled, she finds the warmth that she was seeking, for a while. The lack of the same warmth had made it impossible to continue creating anything new. After all, you need the emotions to connect with people more than just the craft.