Haley Webb’s Joyeux Noël is an ode – an ode to herself, her father and all those hapless to have lost someone dear. It’s a universal love letter, a note of bitter hope to those who have nothing to look forward to. But before jumping into any conclusions over how melancholic this 11:11 minutes long film is likely to be, let’s just correct your presumptions right here. It is melancholic, sure, but strangely hopeful too, in the comfort it offers through its solidarity for all going through an emotional turmoil. It’s bittersweet in the message it sends across, but particularly effective in the way it does it.
As narrator Laetitia Guyot’s voice fills your ears, you see Webb play herself, Haley. A sombre expression painting her face, a sorry face, forlorn and desperate. As she moves around, her listless gait and almost robotic movements make one sympathise with her, but it takes more than a few minutes of screen time to fully empathise with her character. With very well written dialogues to accompany her, we get a peek into her mind even without her having to mouth any of them. And, Alexander M. Drecun’s cinematography ensures that the tonality of the film remains intact, sticking to an all-black-and-white filter.
As she picks gifts and wonders about the Christmas tree to be bought this year, we know of the traditions, common to all household, but different this time in Haley’s – for there is one person less to decorate the tree with her. As Ian Webb’s music rushes in the peppy, festive sounds one would have grown familiar with, it’s hard to overlook the dichotomy of the moment. On one hand, the world seems to be lit into a fervour of sorts, completely blinded by the aching sadness that the people carry in their hearts.
Webb’s acting comes to its highest rank once the dinner table is set for two, and as she sits across the unoccupied chair – she fills it with what is left of her, her love and sadness, all bundled into a tiny box of remnants of a man dearly loved – her father.
Joyeux Noël is philosophical. It’s reflective and poignant, but in its all monochromatic narrative, it doesn’t fail to ring in the faint hope that comes with every festival – that life isn’t over yet for the ones left behind. Haley Webb manages to somehow bring a smile and a familiar moistness into one’s eyes.#ShortFilmReview: Joyeux Noël: Not all Christmases are meant to be merry and snowy. Click To Tweet