A cast of teenage personalities, three separate holiday romances, one snow-ridden town, and a Waffle House amidst it all.
As Christmas fast approaches, Netflix and other streaming networks have begun their annual barrage of winter holiday romances, with Let It Snow being one of much-anticipated releases.
Based on the eponymous 2008 novel penned by authors Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle, Let It Snow follows three distinct stories: Columbia University-accepted Julie who bumps into famed musician Stuart on a train, high school seniors and best friends Tobin and Angie (better known as The Duke), and Dorris and Addie, best friends dealing with their own confusingly frustrated love lives.
The movie definitely took some liberties in an attempt to step away from the mainstream all-white, heteronormative narrative that 2008 was far more reflective of and shuffled a few characters around, or out, to tighten up the storyline. After all, the 365-page book carried details far too intricate to cohesively fit into a 93-minute movie.
Yet, in doing so, the movie seemingly stripped all the magic away that the book had built on its diverse set of personalities, mangling the life lessons that the book had organically delivered.
Julie and Stuart (Maureen Johnson’s characters) were reimagined and reflected the meet-cute scenario. However, the respective actors, Isabela Merced and Shameik Moore, failed to live up to, not only the chemistry the pairing demanded, but the struggle-driven stories that shaped their characters.
This led to a number of heavy yet inorganic conversations. Though, Merced did come into her character towards the end; Moore, on the other hand, remained stoic, rattling off lines that held no real emotion.
Tobin and The Duke (a la John Green) were by far the most disappointing. All the wit and banter that John Green is known for breathing into his characters (to the point of pretentiousness, at times) were lacking.
Instead, their personalities were devolved to revolve around their crushes – long looks and stale lines. The Duke (Kiernan Shipka), in particular, did not hold one conversation that wasn’t either with Tobin (Mitchell Hope) or about Tobin.
Lauren Myracle’s characters, Addie and Dorrie (Odeya Rush and Liv Hewson), by far had the most development, in terms of story and personal growth. They each had their own relationship issues, Addie with an unavailable boy named Jeb whom she chased for validation, and Dorrie with a hot-and-cold signaling cheerleader Tegan.
Yet the larger focus remained on Addie and Dorrie’s friendship with each other which actually offered the viewers a chance to be emotionally invested, and to be frank, was the one moment where the book-to-screen translation presented itself well.
Overall, while the acting fell a tad flat, it isn’t anything that won’t be improved over time. The plot, on the other hand, failed to stand out among the many holiday romances of past and present.
Undoubtedly, Let It Snow is geared more towards the younger generation with some labelling it the equivalent of the 2003 release, Love Actually. However, considering today’s breadth of criticism and the quality of entertainment demanded, Let It Snow makes it seem like we haven’t come too far after all.