Keira Knightley Leads a Doomsday Christmas Comedy in “Silent Night”

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Keira Knightley Leads a Doomsday Christmas Comedy in
Keira Knightley Leads a Doomsday Christmas Comedy in "Silent Night"

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Candles and holly are used to decorate the rooms. The tree is lit up, with a slew of gifts beneath it, and the pantry is packed with holiday delicacies. After a few front-row discussions about whether the new Christmas #1 single is fun or awful, a group of friends converge on this happy scene.

Keira Knightley Leads a Doomsday Christmas Comedy in “Silent Night”

It’s undoubtedly garbage, but no one wants to be a downer at this Yuletide get-together. The brilliant stormclouds on the horizon, not merely the pleasant light of the season, are holding the pessimism at away. They’ll use deadly gases to murder everyone in their way, as has happened throughout most of the planet. For everyone who has descended on Nell’s (Keira Knightley) and Simon’s (Matthew Goode) English country home, this will be the Last Christmas. There will be no way for someone to offer their heart to someone and then give it away the next day. There will be no tomorrow. Camille Griffin’s “Silent Night” may appear to be tonally confused in its fast shifts from farce to tragedy, similar to “It’s a Disaster” remade as a Christmas movie, until you understand one thing: everyone here is British — well, except Lily Rose-Depp — and this is an extraordinarily British film. Our British counterparts excel at combining dark comedy with pure bathos, and Griffin finds the perfect vehicle for that unusual mix of emotions in her own son, Roman Griffin Davis. Roman Griffin Davis, the star of “JoJo Rabbit”! In another odd cinematic mix of death and giggles, he’s being directed by his mother.

But, even if “Silent Night” masters its unusual tone, it struggles to find something to say. Art, Nell and Simon’s oldest kid, is played by Griffin Davis, and while he becomes the film’s heart, he doesn’t steal the show until towards the conclusion. There are simply too many interesting personalities to introduce among all of Nell and Simon’s friends: Sandra, played by Annabelle Wallis, wears a skintight cocktail dress that appears a touch too obvious, especially since she’s married to the quiet Tony (Rufus Jones). Even if “Silent Night” masters its odd tone, it finds it difficult to say anything. Griffin Davis plays Art, Nell and Simon’s oldest child, and while he becomes the film’s heart, he doesn’t steal the show until towards the end. There are simply too many interesting people among Nell and Simon’s friends to introduce: Sandra, played by Annabelle Wallis, wears a skintight cocktail dress that is a little too conspicuous, especially considering she is married to Tony, who is quiet (Rufus Jones).

That makes the decision she must make all the more difficult. Before committing suicide as a group, these pals had convened to share one last amazing night together. With most of the world’s nations already devastated by toxic clouds of gas produced from the Earth as a result of humanity’s unrelenting pollution, the United Kingdom government has devised a plan: It gave out “Exit Pills” to anyone who asked for them, which are small capsules that simulate a painless death in minutes. Everyone will die, thus people should have the option of dying in a less painful, more dignified manner. (The “Exit Pill” isn’t offered to the destitute or undocumented immigrants; misery is their only option.)

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