Falling for Christmas merrily tolls the bells of the Lohanaissance
The celeb-name-renaissance portmanteau has become an overused contrivance, but with Falling for Christmas, we couldn't be happier to hoist the Lohannissance banner high. The first in Netflix's Christmas slate, Falling for Christmas is a charming, if slightly sickly sweet, and perfectly adorable rom-com.
Lohan stars as Sierra, a spoiled hotel heiress with an obnoxious influencer boyfriend, Tad (played with OTT aplomb by George Young). After a skiing accident she suffers from amnesia, and with no clue who she is or where she belongs, helpful and humble ski lodge owner Jake (Glee's Chord Overstreet) takes her in to help her get her memory back.
In true Christmas-movie fashion, she helps him in return. It wouldn't be a Christmas movie without a hefty dose of melodramatic schmaltz. In Falling for Christmas, Sierra is touched by the loss of her mother when she was 5, which helps her bond with Jake's daughter Avy, whose own mother died two years before the events of the film.
The motifs of grief and memory flow easily through the festive flick, the plot of which resembles a watered-down Schitt's Creek. It's plenty cheesy, but it would be disingenuous to mark the movie down for that when cheese is a defining factor of the Holiday season rom-com.
There are flashes of the Netflix Christmas universe at play in Falling for Christmas, particularly a reference to last year's A Castle for Christmas which plays jarringly loudly on a TV, a sort of perhaps unintended meta-commentary on how eagerly the streaming service-cum-studio churns out and promotes its holiday originals.
That aside, Falling for Christmas doesn't get bogged down in the real world. There are many logistical questions left unanswered that, for anyone who watches true crime (a genre in which Netflix is a huge player) feel just a bit beyond the stretch of suspension of disbelief.
But it's Christmas, so we forgive it.
Overstreet and Lohan don't have exactly rip-roaring chemistry, but there's a sweet earnestness between them that carries their relationship through the mostly zippy 95-minute runtime. The side plot, not even a real subplot because there's little substance in it, of the comedic dynamic between Tad and his mountain-man saviour Ralph is light and enjoyable.
Perhaps the thing that makes Falling for Christmas work the most is that neither Sierra nor Tad are nasty. They are spoiled and self-centred, internet-obsessed and woefully out of touch, but they aren't unkind or cruel to those beneath their socio-economic stratum.
With the welcome proliferation of 'eat the rich' themes in media (from White Lotus to Triangle of Sadness), it does feel as if there is a pushback from viewers about the kind of escapism we want. Yes, it's fun to imagine ourselves in the world of the uber-rich but it's more fun, in a schadenfreude kind of way, to watch them suffer.
Netflix Christmas movies don't worry themselves with what kind of feelings we have about hotel heiresses and social media influencers. It presents their world, heightened and glittering with tinsel, without judgement and for entertainment only.
Falling for Christmas has more heart than the aforementioned Brooke Shields vehicle, and a lot of this is down to the sincerity with which Lohan approaches her character — which has hints of Lohan's true self — and the ways in which she seeks to make her own way in the world. If this is the start of the Lohanissance, we can't wait to see where it goes next.
Falling for Christmas is now out on Netflix.
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