Christmas is a time for happiness, love and belonging.

This Queer short film review is part of my “Queer Christmas Shorts for 2020” post.

Five years ago, Phil Beastall rocked onto the short scene with “Love is a Gift”, captivating the hearts of thousands at the holiday season. Last year, he stepped up his game and has given us “Made For You”. While it is quite short (only two minutes!), he succinctly captures the heart of Christmas: spending time together with those you love. Let’s get to it – otherwise my review will end up longer than the short itself!

Still from "Made For You"  - Rhys lounges in bed, texting his long-distance boyfriend

Synopsis of “Made For You”

Rhys (Kane Surry) is laying in bed, when he gets a video call from on his iPad; John (Peter Lofsgard) points out where he’s going to be on a map. Skipping ahead in the year, Rhys is talking on the phone (presumably with John) while doing laundry, his two dogs walking around in the background. Next it’s Rhys birthday, which John “celebrates” by blowing a horn and smashing a cupcake on his face while Rhys laughs away. The season has tuned a bit cooler, as Rhys is wearing a heavy coat while walking his dogs. He gets a text message from John – “Boo!” Later in bed, Rhys reminisces and swipes through photos of he and John together. At Halloween, Rhys puts on a Joker mask before answering John’s video call – except John is wearing a scary clown mask too! Again, they laugh at each other’s jokes. Another evening, John texts: “Wanna dance?” Spinning around, dancing with himself while lights dance in his room, Rhys replies back “Sure.”

Rhys arrives and his folks, accompanied by the usual hugs and kisses of welcome home. That night, on Christmas Eve, Rhys texts John back “Xxx Merry Christmas Xxx”! Now it’s Christmas morning. Rhys, wearing a Santa hat and acting just like a little kid opening Christmas presents, pulls out a small wrapped box from under the tree. “Joker” is written on the box. Suddenly, John walks through the living room doors! Walking up to Rhys, grabbing his hand, and going down onto one knee,… “Wanna dance?”, he asks. “Sure!” replies Rhys. They embrace.

The Critique

Have you ever surprised someone by showing up on their doorstep? Perhaps you even gave them an excuse of why you couldn’t stop by first – just to make it even more special? If you have, then you already know how much that act shows you care for someone. And if you haven’t, “Made For You” is a perfect example of why it’s such a touching thing to do for someone. (Though I certainly hope you can always spend time with your partner and loved one, and never have to part!) The story is quite simple: after being forced to spend every holiday and special event throughout the year apart, John surprises his partner and shows up in person on Christmas Day. Skipping through important days like birthdays, Halloween, and even just random everyday events become a bit sad as they are forced to “connect” over the phone from afar. It’s quite simple, yet so poignant.

Cinematically, it’s equally stunning. Throughout the entire short plays a rather cheery piano melody, weaving in and out of each moment. There’s a personal feel to the camera work. Even though they regularly jump ahead throughout the year of time, there is no disjointed transitions; in fact, we barely notice the skips except for the changing of day to night, of summer to winter, or even just a change of clothes. I only have two qualms with the short. It’s TOO short, and I was anticipating something else when John went down on his knee. But those aside, “Made For You” is simply incredible.

Still from "Made For You"  - hands hold a small gold wrapped gift box with red ribbon and bow, "Joker" is written on the box

Ok, pardon me while I wipe away the tears of happiness… wasn’t that utterly cute and romantic? While it’s features a gay couple, “Made For You” perfectly captures the emotions and tugging at the heartstrings that any couple separated by distance feels during the holidays. Or heck, even just family. Living halfway around the world from all of my family might give an extra layer to my experience watching this short, because every holiday or major even is spent on the phone instead of in person. But even if you can’t relate on that extra level, this is a poignant film that melts our hearts. Take that Hallmark! Go watch this masterpiece over on YouTube – but be sure to have a tissue handy though.

Queer Relevance of “Made For You”

While it’s never directly stated and other than their embrace at the end, it’s rather obvious that Rhys and John are partners struggling through a long distance relationship. At its heart, it’s certainly a queer story. But “Made For You” is also relatable to anyone who has to work around long distance relationships, or even those who are separated from their family.