It amazes me that even Oscar nominated shorts are rarely seen by the general public and their names rapidly disappear into obscurity after the awards are announced. Well, here’s your chance to recall one into the light. And it’s just in time for the holiday.
Holiday Romance is a 1998 British comedy that’s not going to leave you dwelling on the nature of life, but will leave you with a smile. A small time burglar (Oz Milburne) thinks it’s his lucky day when he sees a woman (Eva Pope) drop her keys on the train platform. She’ll be off on vacation and he’ll have all the time in the world to pilfer her home. He’d have thought differently if he’d noticed her dropping them previously, planting them for someone to pickup. At the house, he finds everything he could have desired, plus a little more in the form of a not-so-ferocious dog.
The film has the dry, witty humor I’ve come to expect from Britcoms, along with the mindset. The kindly robber, who is ready to break into your home or pick your pocket, but would never harm you no matter what, is a British character through and through. The joke wouldn’t work if the film was set in the U.S., where we assume our crooks carry guns and would blow you away right after killing their own grandmothers. But Holiday Romance assumes lovable criminals are everywhere, so it all makes sense.
While it feels like a substantial project, the film has a small cast. With only three main actors, and one of those a dog, it’s the four-legged thespian who steals the show. Well, you know the old saying about never acting with kids or animals. The humans do their jobs admirably, but cute will win out.
Of course you’d expect an Academy Award nominee to look good, and it does. Director J.J. Keith pays the bills directing U.K. commercials and is considered one of the best. His skills transfer over to the world of storytelling (where the climax isn’t a frothy mug of Guinness). He knows how to shoot in confined spaces and you still can’t beat 35mm for a short. He was aided by producer Alex Jovy, who shared the directing chair; the two decided to simplify the credits.