While holiday spirit made the Grinch’s heart expand, “A New Christmas” will shrivel the souls of some viewers. Those cynics will likely stay away to begin with, warned off by art featuring two attractive people set against a Christmas tree backdrop. However, those who take an interest in this earnest indie drama might be charmed by its good intentions, particularly in its message about the merits of multicultural friendships.
A year has passed since Kabir (Prashantt Guptha) lost his mother (Swati Bhise) on Christmas day, but he still struggles to move on in both his personal and professional lives. When he meets Kioni (Grace Wacuka), a Kenyan film student new to the city, he finally begins to heal as he takes her on a tour of New York and its holiday decorations across Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Travis Hodgkins’ script strives to inspire, but it’s trite even for a drama about the magic of Christmas. Unfortunately, “A New Christmas” receives little help from either the amateur acting or first-time director Daniel Tenenbaum’s hand.
On the technical side, abrupt editing doesn’t ease the audience into new scenes, and there are sound issues that are egregious even in an indie film, with New York City’s trademark loudness overshadowing the dialogue in some scenes. Tenenbaum has made an American Greetings version of a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie, but those eager for more holiday cheer may take everything they can get.
Running time: 1 hour, 21 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica