(director/writer: Dan Levy; cinematographer: Ole Bratt Birkeland; editor: Jonathan Corn; music: Rob Simonsen; cast: Dan Levy (Marc), Ruth Negga (Sophie), Himesh Patel (Thomas), Luke Evans (Oliver), Celia Imrie (Imelda), Arnaud Valois (Theo), David Bradley (Duncan, Oliver’s dad), Mehdi Baki (Luca); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Daniel Levy, Megan Zehmer, Debra Hayward, Kate Fenske; Netflix; 2023-in English, French)

“The drama is too self-absorbed and glib.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Dan Levy, son of Eugene, makes his feature film directorial debut in this stylish but droll dramedy relating to dealing with grief, in which he also writes, produces and stars in. Though sincere, the drama is too self-absorbed and glib for me to be sympathetic to the victim, and I didn’t find the comedy part funny.

Levy is the co-creator of TV’s comedy hit Shitt’s Creek.

The gay artist and illustrator, Marc (Dan Levy), is married to the prominent writer of YA books, Oliver (Luke Evans), the star of the marriage. The couple reside in a luxury apartment in the Notting Hill section of London.

The couple throw their annual lavish Christmas party, inviting their close friends. They include Marc’s artist friends from the Richard Curtis Art Gallery, his whiny former lover Thomas (Himesh Patel) and his spirited female friend Sophie (Ruth Negga). Marc is still grieving the loss of his mother.

Tragedy hits when Oliver is killed while hailing a taxi upon leaving the building of the party, as he is run over on the street on his way to a book signing, Marc is devastated that he lost the center of his life. Prior to the tragedy, Oliver left Marc a Christmas card, one he wouldn’t open until a year later. When he does, he finds Oliver telling him he found a lover in Paris and through Oliver’s lawyer (Celia Imrie) learns he has an apartment there, and has led a secret life during their marriage.

Thomas and Sophie travel to Paris with Marc to comfort him while he clears up things, as the film reminds us we need friends to help us get through such rough times.

But I found that the film’s heart might be in the right place but its execution wasn’t up to par, the character talk was artificial (no one talked like a real person), its story was unsophisticated (it failed to dive into the deeper issues about loss and grief), and the grief might have been real to Marc but seemed too soap-opera like to me.

At one point, Marc says his grief is as if he’s “swimming with my clothes on and can’t take them off.” Well my reaction is that I wasn’t entertained by the somber story or did I find there was anything to learn about how these wealthy privileged folks handle themselves when in mourning.