Thursday, 29 April 2010

Home By Christmas: Movie Review

Home By Christmas: Movie Review

Home By Christmas
Rating: 8/10
Cast: Tony Barry, Chelsie Preston Crayford, Martin Henderson, Gaylene Preston
Director: Gaylene Preston
With The Pacific now underway on TV ONE, there's a lot of nostalgia in the air.
And Home By Christmas will simply compound that.
It's a New Zealand film memoir by Gaylene Preston based on interviews with her father Ed Preston about his time in World War 2 in Italy and North Africa.
Culled from archive material, Preston's called in the services of Goodbye Pork Pie's Tony Barry to narrate the material and essentially play her father. But as we learn early on, Ed was never too keen on sharing his experiences until one day, as a Christmas present, he decided to open up to his daughter.
What unfolds is the story of one man and how he signed up to the NZ Army back in 1940 because the rest of the rugby team were doing it for a free holiday and he didn't want to be left out.
As he remarks, they never expected to see any war - but that was the opposite from what they'd ever have hoped.
In between Ed's recollections, the story of the domestic life and wife he left behind, Tui (played by Chelsie Preston Crayford from The Cult and Show Of Hands) unfolds in flashback. It's a clever way to tell the story and there's a simplicity to it which is appealing - and while it's not the most original story, there's a level of truth to it which makes it universal.
Through old photos, footage from the times and period recreation, the whole story of Ed Preston comes to life - it's a bold narrative touch which makes the memoir stand out.

There's a subtlety and restrained feeling about this film which makes it engaging - Ed's tell it like it is style means Home By Christmas will strike a chord with many in the audience who've heard hints of similar stories from previous generations. It's also a humbling and haunting film - but one which is important and needs to be told; given that old soldiers didn't tend to talk about what they saw or what happened, many memories and reasons to be grateful for their sacrifice have been lost over the years.

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