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Review: Last Train to Christmas (2021)

Written and directed by Julian Kemp, Last Train to Christmas follows Michael Sheen as the Peter Stringfellow like Tony Towers, an 1980’s celebrity nightclub owner who is on a train, the 3:17 to Nottingham, with his fiancé Sue Taylor (Nathalie Emmanuel) for a Christmas family reunion. His is soon joined on his train journey by his brother Roger (Cary Elwes) and his wife.

As events unfold Tony discovers that moving forwards and backwards through the train carriages allow him to move back and forwards through time. We get to see key aspects of Tony’s life including the consequences of his life decisions – positive and negative. As Tony tries to adjust, time is adjusting around him with each carriage revealing deeper aspects of change to Tony as his family.

As always Sheen takes what he has been given and makes it even better. Tony Towers goes on a rollercoaster of a journey with each time aspect of the character delivered in a realistic way that connects with the viewer. Cary Elwes almost steals the film away from Sheen with his take on Roger Towers, as scene they share raises the film quality higher.

My main criticism centres on the costume budget, whilst passable, there are certain wigs that draw attention for the wrong reasons. It makes the film come across like a TV special rather than a movie. It resembles an extended episode on Inside Number 9 (which isn’t a bad thing) rather than a blockbuster movie. Though the way it invokes each time-period it features is genius, especially when we hit the black-and-white era.

With some cool Easter eggs (check the phone number!) and cameos from John Thomson, Robin Askwith, Anna Lundberg, Laura Evelyn, Dave Chapman, Anna Bolton, and Thomas Law as a younger Tony Towers, Last Train to Christmas offers you something a bit different this Christmas.

Verdict: 7/10. Whilst it can be argued that this is yet another Dickens inspired drama, Last Train to Christmas manages to put its own unique spin on things allowing us to experience the various decisions that impacted on Tony Towers life. Some made by him, and some made by those around him. Whilst it can be argued as to whether or Tony has his Scrooge redemption, by the end you soon realise that maybe the film was not about Tony at all.

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