This week I’ve been requested to review a 2016 film titled Before Christmas.
Independently written and directed by Chuyao He, the film follows a small, low income Chinese family as they relocate to the big city as a means to find work. The father (Lao Lee), along with his 18-year-old son Xiao Lee (Deyang Hou), find employment in a factory producing Christmas decorations. As the family endears the difficulties of sweatshop labor, Xiao must come to the harsh reality that his dream career may be just a fantasy.
Before Christmas displays undeniably professional camerawork, with fresh and interesting angles that still feel natural without coming off as pretentious. The film also utilizes minimal amounts of dialogue, allowing the actions of the small but talented cast to tell the story.
All throughout the film, our protagonist struggles with the underlying theme of loss of innocence, though not in a conventional Hollywood sense. Through hard work and dedication, you’d expect the main character to finally achieve his goal of becoming a professional musician. Before Christmas gives no such closure. Instead, Xiao learns the harsh reality many must ultimately face, that dreams of luxury are often just that. Dreams.
This is a message I find to be harsh and critical, but nonetheless necessary. Not everyone gets to be a coveted musician, a famous actor, or a wealthy writer. And sometimes our life situations dictate the possibilities of occupation.
Before Christmas is an incredibly well-thought-out film with a very unique message, one that’s seldom told. It impacted me emotionally in a way that was both profound and provocative. It made me contemplate the unfortunate manufacturing of Christmas, the tribulations many families face, and the unrealistic nature of stardom.
Check out the Before Christmas IMDB page here!
The Verdict: A