[“Jangle” is the fourth short of my “7 Queer Christmas Shorts for 2021” post. To read the next review, “The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night”, click HERE. To read the previous review, “He Could’ve Gone Pro“, click HERE.]
While it took a while to finally get this new queer Christmas short from Third Time Lucky Productions actually filmed, it’s a pleasant addition to the usual storylines of the holidays. I was quite looking forward to its release because the premise really piqued my interest; it’s a storyline that I can say I’ve haven’t seen before. Unfortunately there are some issues that I cannot overlook that brings my overall rating down. And I truly hate that I had to give this short a lower score as a result, because it has charm and an interesting plot that could’ve been great. Let’s break it down a bit, shall we?
Synopsis of “Jangle”
(synopsis provided by Third Time Lucky Productions)
It’s December 1st 2021, Noah is finally allowed to celebrate Christmas after agreeing to not mention it before December. His boyfriend Ned isn’t keen on Christmas but helps decorate the tree before going to work. When he returns for work, he discovers their house, specifically their bedroom, has turned into a grotto.
Later in the month, Noah brings up their plans for the Christmas Eve party and reminds Ned that it is fancy dress. Ned is horrified, the reason he dislikes the season is due to his parents splitting up at a Christmas party, while in fancy dress. Noah’s had enough, he demands that the decorations are taken down, Christmas is cancelled.
Noah’s mother comes round, and reminds him of what really happened that night, to reassure him, and to support him in making it up to Ned by going to the Christmas party.
First off, a bit of history on how this film came to be – and why it took so long to actually get made. Back in 2019, director Andrew Creak along with Tony Fyler created Third Time Lucky Productions Ltd. They planned to film Simone Greenwood‘s script for “Jangle” to jumpstart the new company – but then scheduling issues arose before life came to a halt worldwide in 2020. I stumbled upon their unique Zoom Christmas short “Lonely This Christmas” made during lockdowns last year and have been anxiously awaiting the release of “Jangle” Which is perhaps why I’m a bit more disappointed that my review is not that favourable.
To put it simply, I feel like this film was rushed in order to be released for this Christmas. As such, many various elements suffered or didn’t work as planned. According to their Crowdfunding drive, they were working on a very limited budget and acknowledged that because of such (along with paying their crew fairly while covering PPE during filming) may result in some elements having to be adjusted to accomodate. So while I might come across harshly for certain bits, it was not entirely intentional on their part. With a better budget and perhaps a bit more time, many of the short film’s issues could be resolved.
So what are my issues? Well the most obvious one I had was that certain scenes were so dark, I could barely tell what was happening – even with my laptop’s brightness turned all the way up and in a dark room. The worst offender is the opening bedroom scene until they turn on the bedroom lamps, however the final scene outside Sarah’s house is not much better. (You can actually see what I mean in the still below, though I chose that still for entirely different reasons – it’s the cute makeup that Noah’s mother interrupts as Mary!) Additionally, some of the handheld camera work is a tad too shaky that it becomes distracting. Yet again, with a better budget I’m sure these issues could easily be resolved and amp the film to the rating it deserves.
Overall, I enjoyed the plot of “Jangle.” Instead of the usual tropes of flirting and finding new romance at Christmastime, Ned and Noah are already a couple. In fact, it’s their first Christmas living together – which is part of the root of their problems. (although how long they’ve been living together is not certain). The juxtaposition between a Jingle, aka someone who absolutely LOVES Christmas and goes all out in (Ned) and a Jangle, aka someone who rather despises the holiday due to something in their past (Noah) sets up a new & intriguing dilemma. Unfortunately, things don’t jive well resulting in their breakup, all because Noah feels that Ned isn’t respecting his troublesome past regarding Christmas Even fancy dress parties.
Now, while this is certainly enough to cause drama, I have to wonder how realistic such a situation is. Couples certainly have trouble communicating and often not listening to the other is what leads to problems. But as Ned points out, Noah knew from the Christmas before that Ned goes all out for Christmas. Noah’s reply that he hoped Ned would tone it down after they moved in together is puzzling, since it seems this is the first time it came up. (And frankly, that’s quite a lot to expect from the person you love.) Things take an interesting twist when Noah’s mother sits down with him and reveals the full story of what happened all those years ago. Hint: it wasn’t what Noah recalls. (Which makes me wonder how young Noah was at the time.) In fact, the best part of “Jangle” is the final scene where Noah comes to Ned asking for forgiveness, offering Ned back his Christmas ornament, along with everything that Ned wants so long as they get back together.
The last thing I had an issue with probably wouldn’t be resolved with a better budget though. I didn’t believe that Ned and Noah were actually in love. While I don’t expect a lovey-dovey relationship, things seem rather cold. Perhaps this was intentional; the initial romance of dating slowly ebbing away into normal routine after moving in together? Or is it poor acting? Either way, there was chemistry missing which was hard to overlook.
The bit I loved the best? The song written specially for the film: “Jangle to my Jingle” by With Joe. It’s rather simple yet quite catchy; it works well with the film too.
Even though I have a couple issues with “Jangle”, I really enjoyed this new queer Christmas short film! As noted, I think with a better budget (or even a bit more post-editing work?), many of the cinematographic issues could be fixed. Yet despite the short’s problems, underneath is a new story that I quite enjoy. I highly encourage you to watch “Jangle”, not only because it has a great story I haven’t seen before but because supporting queer shorts will only booster even more, and better queer shorts. I can’t wait to see what Third Time Lucky Productions brings next time!
Queer Relevance of “Jangle”
Like many of the films I review, the queer relevance of “Jangle” is rather obvious: Ned and Noah are both gay, living together in what initially appears to be a stable relationship. That itself isn’t anything new or extraordinary, though it certainly qualifies this as queer film. Yet it’s the rockiness and breakup that results from their differences regarding celebrating Christmas that are rather unique. Couples don’t always see eye to eye, and sometimes those differences lead to breakup. That realness gives an extra bit of queer relevance to this queer short film.