Ratings : ****
One film that become a lot bigger then people expected back in 2009 was the sweet little film Nativity.
Starring a cast of children who with the help of their teacher (played by Martin Freeman) and classroom assistant (Mark Wotton) try to make it big in Hollywood by performing the best Nativity musical they possibly can.
The question was will the Nativity from St Bernadettes get a good rating and can Mr Maddens bring Hollywood to the school?
I loved the movie. There hasn’t been such a feel good movie like that in years.
Martin Freeman worked brilliantly as a kind of Scrooge character, he fell in love with Christmas because of the love of his life then lost her at Christmas so fell out of love with it. Its kind of the reverse Scrooge effect, whilst gaining money was enough to turn his heart cold the deemed failures of Paul Maddens life left him cold.
His friend from drama school Gordan Shakespeare (played by Jason Watkins) has gone on to be a primary school teacher at the rival school puts on a Christmas play every year that is deemed the best. His now ex-girlfriend Jennifer Lore (Ashley Jensen) has gone to America and is believed to be a big star in Hollywood.
Madden kind of gets left to do the Nativity. They know its not going to beat Oakmoor and seem to have given up. The headteacher then drops Mr Poppy (Wotton) on Madden and his class who brings the Nativity to life, overhears Madden boasting to Shakespeare about bringing Jenny over to see the play and sets a fire (metaphorically) under the school with the news that Hollywood is on its way.
The film was partially improvised and I think it made it even better. You know that the chemistry you see in the cast had to be pretty darn perfect for the improvisation to blend in so well with the film. Freeman and Wotton were great with the kids who in turn were great. I liked the fact that the kids were just left to be kids, there was none of the forced acting you see sometimes from child actors and it made it more emotional because it was just so real. Especially when they had the big speeches about how the kids were just deemed failures before anyone had seen the Nativity, knowing that they weren’t being held to any kind of standard because they weren’t the talented kids. Coming from a school pretty much the same as the one they are from I know the feeling! You never really have any expectations laid on you but man can the disappointment when you don’t live up to the nothingness that people think you should live up to be felt. It was just nice to see normal kids being normal and then having people remind us that these are just normal kids doing something normal kids do and we shouldn’t put expectations on them OR on the other hand not to expect them to do well and to believe they’ll be poor before they even start.
The cast were just wonderful all the way through from Freeman and Wotton to guest characters like Ricky Tomlinson and Alan Carr. Everyone got into it and did their own thing.
I think what made it brilliant for me though was seeing a movie about giving kids a chance. In the modern world there just isn’t enough of that and simple things like Christmas plays can be lost. All the characters in the film are seen to be selfish (I should say Adult characters) but the one thing that meant anything to the kids, who couldn’t really see that the characters were either being selfish or silly, was that none of the adults had put them down as failures before they’d even began. Having their teachers believe in them and give them the freedom to do what they can do meant so much to them.
Its nice when a film can end and everyone is just smiling and happy.