Aml Ameen on the influence of Love Actually on new film Boxing Day

Aml Ameen on the influence of Love Actually on new film Boxing Day Entertainment

Festive romcoms are never exactly in short supply, but one of the most enduring examples of the genre is undoubtedly Richard Curtis’ classic Love Actually, which was first released back in 2003.

It’s no surprise, then, that Aml Ameen’s new film Boxing Day includes some nods to that film – including one scene that riffs on the famous moment when Mark (Andrew Lincoln) turns up at Juliet’s (Kiera Knightley) door with a message delivered on several sheets of paper.

Speaking to RadioTimes.com for the new film’s release, Ameen – who writes, directs and stars in the movie – said that Love Actually was just one of many reference points when he was crafting the film.

“The 1940 classic The Philadelphia Story was an influence in terms of the banter and the wit,” he said. “Then My Best Friend’s Wedding is like my favourite rom-com of all time and there’s a bit of a borrow of the music there.

“And then, of course, you know, Love Actually and Notting Hill. Those Richard Curtis movies have been done so well, and it painted a version of Britain that is very charming. And so you know, I just wanted to add my personal touch to that.”

The film is certainly a personal one for Ameen. He said he first came up with the idea while celebrating a Boxing Day party with his own extended family back in 2016, when there was “a big dance-off going on” and he found himself thinking it would make for a wonderful movie.

“I’m not sure how many people are aware of how Black British people celebrate their version of Christmas,” he explained.

“It’s very British, but we have to throw in a little bit of the culture of like Africa and the Caribbean. So that’s where initially it came from. And then as I got really, really close to wanting to do my directorial debut, I wanted to do something that felt personal, and that was coming from the heart and something that was a love letter to London of sorts.”

Boxing Day mainly focuses on a central love triangle between an author (Ameen) his new American girlfriend, (Aja Naomi King) and his former childhood sweetheart (Leigh-Anne Pinnock) – but several supporting characters also have their own love stories going on at the same time, and this was something that Ameen felt was very important.

“I always said that it’s a multi-generational love story,” he said. “And the one that was really particularly important to me, was what happens when you are a woman that has children and gets divorced, and you want to move on into the next chapter of your life, and how scary that must be.

“So that storyline was an ode to my mother and my Aunties, and people that I know that started relationships at the next chapter of their life. And so that was really important.

“And then with Sheyi Cole, Josh’s storyline – I was one of those kids that was very infatuated. I can actually remember the first time I ever felt the pangs of ‘Oh, my God’, like it’s a real thing for me. So I wanted to capture all of the versions of love.”

And something else that was important for Ameen was to depict a side of Black British life that hasn’t always had the opportunity to be shown on screen.

“I think that the collective Black British story, in terms of its veering away from the street genre, is still in its infancy,” he said. “It starts with my film, and it starts with Reggie Yates’ film [Pirates] and it starts with I May Destroy You as a TV show.

“But the collective Black story since the street genre – which by the way, I’ve been part of those films, and I love them. But I can’t recall, many of this type of film that have been of any profile.

“So I think it’s that moment in history where our music artists are like, super, super successful, and we get to know them and then they kind of champion this movement. That always happens, film always follows music. Music penetrates people’s souls a lot faster. And so I think that’s really amazing.”

Boxing Day is currently showing in UK cinemas. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide or visit our Film hub for all the latest news and features. 

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