With the snow thick on the ground and the holiday season well and truly upon us you may be thinking of what movies to watch over Christmas. Do you go for old classics like White Christmas, one of the many takes on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or one of the more modern movies that crop up at this time of year such as Home Alone, something from the Indiana Jones stable (not a Christmas movie as such but there’s bound to be one on) or even Die Hard?
If you’ve been down those well-trodden paths one too many times before and are looking for a Christmas movie that’s a bit different then let me make a suggestion.
2007 Dutch rom-com Alles is Liefde (Love is All) won the 2008 Golden Calf at the Netherlands Film Festival for Best Director and Best Film, The Rembrandt Award for Best Dutch Actor and Actress in 2008 and Best DVD in 2009, plus a sackful of nominations. To give you some idea of just how popular it was it had one million viewers in the Netherlands, a country of 16 million people, in 2007 and was just behind Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End that year.
The background for the film is the Dutch Christmas season, which starts on 5th December with the arrival of SinterKlaas (the origin of the US “Santa Claus”) and his helper Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) from Spain and continues on through to Christmas Eve, and the film follows the intertwined lives of twelve Dutch singletons, divorcees and married people trying to find love, family and meaning through a mix of trials and complications, not least of which is the death of SinterKlaas!
If you want a quick view of the plot IMDB can help you out here and but if you’re like me and don’t always like spoilers then I’ll just say that it’s next to “Notting Hill” and “Love Actually” in my collection and to my mind is as enjoyable as both. The trailers are only in Dutch without subtitles but will give you a some flavour of it:
The soundtrack is great with tracks from Hot Chocolate, Corinne Bailey Rae, Norah Jones, Krezip and the title track by Dutch stars Blof, who have previously recorded a combined Dutch and English version of “Holiday in Spain” with Counting Crows.
Almost inevitably it hasn’t received much attention outside of its native Holland but that’s been our loss more than theirs and this weekend I’ll be getting my copy down off the shelf in time for the imminent arrival of Sinterklaas as Sunday’s the 5th and he should be on his boat from Spain, so if you fancy doing likewise you can grab a copy from Bol.com, the Dutch competitor to Amazon, or ebay but make sure it’s one with English subtitles, ‘Engels Ondertiteld’, or similar, is the thing to look for both on the box and in the DVD setup menu.
As it is in Dutch with the English subtitles you won’t want to have overdone the brandy butter or other Christmas spirit as that might affect your ability to follow it, but do give “Alles is Liefde” a go. You may just fall in love.
What are your favourite alternative Christmas films? Let me know in the comments below.