Far from perfect, this Christmas film features a guardian angel, time travel and a black, queer lead
Starring Nina Fairweather, Otoja Abit, Cooper Koch, Adriana DeMeo, David Anzuelo, and Chris Noth
As ridiculous as it may seem to get excited about a queer Christmas film, 2020 has proved to be more generous than most. Not only is there commercially released Happiest Season, but even Lifetime, Hallmark and MTV have got on board with made-for-TV offerings of their own to represent the LGBTQ+ community. A New York Christmas Wedding, perhaps not surprisingly, pales in comparison to some of these other films, even though it’s being distributed by Netflix. This is hardly surprising, however, considering the clear lack of budget that A New York Christmas Wedding had, as well as it being a clear early work by writer-director Otoja Abit, which was hastily filmed in about two weeks. Considering also the massive amount of Netflix Christmas movies, it’s almost an unfair comparison.
Jenny (Nina Fairweather) is due to get married to fiancé David (Otoja Abit, wearing many hats), but soon runs into angel Azrael (Cooper Koch), who shows Jenny an alternate universe, in which she had declared her love for her childhood best friend Gabrielle (Adriana DeMeo) and they are now together. What follows is precisely what it says on the tin, with the pair trying to get married in a Catholic Church, but the priest (Chris Noth) having a crisis of faith on whether or not he should allow it.
While it has solid intentions, there are many glaring plot holes which muddy the story that is trying to be told. While the intention is that Jenny is meant to live her truth, the film misses a trick by having both Gabrielle and Jenny’s father as dead in the regular timeline, but still alive in the one where Jenny declared her feelings. This does make it somewhat of a less clear decision as to how much of the decision was Jenny deciding to live authentically and how much was just her wanting these two important people to be alive again. Had Gabrielle still been alive in the present storyline, it might have been more empowering for Jenny to break off her engagement with fiancé David and confess how she actually felt, leading to a reconciliation between the two in the genuine storyline, as opposed to using time travel as a handy fix. What’s more, the provenance of the angel Azrael was a little on the nose and felt a little unnecessarily contentious, especially when the provenance of angels isn’t generally explored or questioned in films.
Ultimately, it is a commendable attempt, and hopefully this attracts Abit to the attention of producers for future projects, as there is clearly a lot of potential here.
A New York Christmas Wedding is streaming now on Netflix