‘Christmas Eve in Miller’s Point’ brings Christmas to Cannes 2024

He christmas cinema is booming again. At least, it has given rise to two of the best recent American films, headed directly to becoming classics of the subgenre: Those who stay, of Alexander Payne last year; and Christmas Eve in Miller’s Point, presented this year at the Cannes Filmmakers’ Fortnight.

The American director Tyler Taormina has repeated the move of his magnetic debut Ham on Rye (2019) with another atmospheric portrait of a community; in this case, an Italian-American family from Long Island (New York, USA), very similar to yours.

Review of ‘Christmas Eve in Miller’s Point’

Christmas Eve in Miller’s Point

“Our mission is a fill a void in modern cinema. Our films are passionate works between friends where The atmosphere matters more than the plot and the various forms of cultural decline in the 21st century are studied.” This is how strong the Los Angeles film collective is in its manifesto Omnes Films, to which such promising American indie filmmakers as Tyler Taormina, who with his third full-length endorses his own voice with an undeniable signature.

In Christmas Eve in Miller’s Point, An extended Italian-American family is preparing to celebrate Christmas Eve at their home on Long Island. Relatives arrive, the gifts are placed under the Christmas tree, the carousel of kisses and hugs begins, catching up while the dinner plates are arranged on the table.

They are the first bars of a kaleidoscopic mosaic of Christmas moments, extendable to other family gatherings and beyond, which will shape an even greater composition through the different generations of the family (and their neighbors) gathered for the holidays: adults, elders, adolescents, small children. ..

Taormina is interested in groups of people, communities united by blood, generations and cultural rituals. His films, as he already established with the powerful debut of the youth Ham on Rye (2019), show diverse human groups with care and a disarming interest in human faces (mixing professional performers like Michael Cera either Elsie Fisher with natural or first-time actors, bringing out the unique and particular photogenicity of each body) that is portrayed in collaboration with the director of photography Carson Lund another crony of Omnes.

This anthropological view, linked to a particular relaxed narrative style very much in line with Richard Linklater of Slacker (1990) and Move of ’76 (1993) leads the characters of Taormina to settle on two fundamental pillars: the aforementioned elusive aura of the performers and small dramatic scenes, barely vignettes, that usually bet everything on the mystery of an action captured in the middle or to the possible identification of personal experience nested in remote memories.

There are scenes in Christmas Eve in Miller’s Point that develop for several minutes, others barely last seconds. The film is made up of that dramatic pointillism, an atomization of the shared anecdote that transcends elaboration or detention.

Each new situation seems to arise from some kind of truth of its own (your grandmother’s tender smile, your aunt’s way of putting the keys on the table, the adolescent kisses in the back of the car) or borrowed (resonances with all the Yankee Christmas films, literary with Don DeLillo either Raymond Carver) that it does not need to give more information than the little suggested to make you understand (or imagine, complete) what is happening.

Of that seemingly infinite ability to open leaks unexpected (attention to the characters abandoned by the system and the chilling phrase of Sawyer Spielberg second nepobaby of a film that also has Francesca Scorsese) that jump between tonality (there is hilarious absurd comedy, but also deep drama Bergmanian) a constellation comes out deeply intimate but universalized experiences. Is the miracle of Christmas something else?

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