Yuletide The Knot (2023) – Film Review
Director: Nanea Miyata
Cast: Mary Antonini, Peter Porte, Kelley Jakle
By Elizabeth Stanforth-Sharpe
It’s that time of year when the networks are filled with Christmas feel-good romance films.
They always have corny titles like Christmas at the Castle, The Knight Before Christmas or Home for the Holly Days, and the formula is predictable. There is usually a person in a high-flying job going back to the tiny settlement they were brought up in, or spent childhood holidays in, and often a long-lost love that never left.
There is usually a reason for their having to go there and a resentment that they must deal with it, an obstacle to their getting back to the city in time for Christmas, or a reason why they can’t get into the Christmas spirit, and always lots of snow, tinsel, and hot chocolate with marshmallows.
“A little sparkle in our hearts”
Studies have been done. There’s a scientific reason for such films leaving us with a little sparkle in our hearts. Their very predictability and over-the-top characters mean that we know what is coming, there’s no stress involved, and the calmness, comfort, and sentimentality they induce brings down blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, boosts our mood and are good for our cardiovascular health. There’s another bonus. Apparently, if you watch them with a significant other, they can strengthen the bonds between you.
Furthermore, psychologists would have us believe that the Christmas films play to our ‘nostalgia-bias’, the cognitive process that allows us to believe that the past was somehow better than the present. That may or may not be the case, but in a world that can be chaotic and unreliable at times, there is a real excuse to take time out to watch something that’s routine and helps us to feel secure and calm.
Yuletide The Knot must surely be a contender for the most pun-tastic title award. Director Nanea Miyata has a signature note she employs with all the films she directs. She feels it is important to include the title of the film in the dialogue somewhere. I suspect this one was a challenge but, listen carefully, and there it is. Cheesy, but perhaps made slightly easier by the fact that Miyata not only directed Yuletide The Knot, but also co-wrote it with Daniel Mahler Landman.
The story outline is that Rachel (Mary Antonini) is a wedding planner in the small town of Pineview, where she grew up. She is contacted by a celebrity social media influencer Susan (Rachel Leyco), who wishes to be married right there in Pineview, at Christmas, for no other reason than she has heard it will look beautiful as a background on the photographs.
Susan is demanding, expects the best, and money is no object, but she makes it clear that she is far too busy a person to get involved in her own wedding preparations. It will be her manager who deals with the details, including choosing the bride’s dress and selecting cake and menus.
It’s not the usual way that Rachel works, but she can’t turn down the job, especially as it will provide a necessary distraction to get her through the first Christmas since her father died. The manager arrives, and he is no other than Logan (Peter Porte), who was born and brought up in Pineview, but couldn’t wait to leave when he was older. He and Rachel had been old flames. As they work together to make Susan’s dream wedding happen, unresolved issues between them begin to rise to the surface.
“A feel-good watch”
Yuletide The Knot adheres to the Christmas film formula, and is certainly a feel-good watch, with some real humour – in the main through the inclusion of comedian Melissa Peterman as the bridal shop manager, but it also attempts another layer in showing how Rachel negotiates her grief, accepting that long-held traditions will be done differently this year.
It’s a rite of passage that we all face at some point in our lives, and it’s handled in a sensitive and loving way, but because it has crammed that little extra in, it feels a bit rushed at the end. Nonetheless, it’s worth closing the curtains, curling up with hands wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate, and letting go of the stresses of the day as you watch.