Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Christmas on the Carousel: Movie Review





An indie romance with well written characters.
Writer and director Erik Bloomquist has been busy with Christmas at the Carousel his third movie released this year after Weekenders and Night at the Eagle Inn. He also stars as Greyson, one of four friends who have made the trip back home for the Christmas holidays during their final year at college. It’s time to grapple with their relationships, their future, their past and what home ultimately means.   2021

Directed by: Erik Bloomquist

Screenplay by: Erik Bloomquist, Taylor Turner

Starring: Erik Bloomquist, Madeleine Dauer, Taylor Turner and Rachel Oremland

The title suggests a cheesy Hallmark Christmas romance movie (in fact, not to be confused with A Christmas Carousel (2020)), but it’s so indie in its approach that it’s rather refreshing to get a simple relationship dramedy set during the holiday. And I love the setting here – a small town in Connecticut, that each of our four main characters are starting to lose their connection to. Themes that are typically reserved for ‘end of summer’ movies with high school students going their separate ways to college, arguably work much better here with college students a semester away from graduating and about to enter the adult world.

Greyson has been in love with Sloane for years but has never had the courage to say anything. Sloane’s father died during high school and she’s spent the last four years trying to find herself while dating anyone and everyone who didn’t matter. Callie’s the aspiring actress, who has been working towards her big break, while Henry the gay kid happy to escape his small town has now realized he spent the last four years scared and completely aimless. All four of them are relatable, but Greyson wearing his heart on his sleeve from the very beginning and Henry trying to hide the fact that he has also worn his heart on the sleeve are particularly endearing.

The main plot does revolve around a carousel at a dying museum. Henry’s desperate to put together a viral video on TikTok and gets his friends (plus Sloane’s younger sister Paige) to stage a lock-in at the museum. But the movie isn’t about the plot, it’s about the characters. And they are really well established here; their fears and shaky confidence are front and center and it’s very easy to relate to their drama and hope for Greyson to admit his feelings and fall for Henry as it’s revealed that he’s a much deeper character than he lets on.

The dialogue is a bit awkward at the beginning and it’s easy to see the under-polished-ness of the film, but at this time of year a low-budget is superior to over-exaggerated Christmas cheer. Sloane’s red beret is cheesy, but the rest of it is young adult heartache. It is a romance at its heart with well written characters and universal themes of fitting in and trying to define “home”.