Netflix UK film review: Let It Snow
Ivan Radford | On 08, Dec 2019Reading time: 3 mins
Director: Luke Snellin
Cast: Mitchell Hope, Kiernan Shipka, Joan Cusack, Liv Hewson, Anna Akana, Isabel Merced, Shameik Moore
Watch Let It Snow online in the UK: Netflix UK
“Oh, the weather outside is frightful” begins one of the most iconic Christmas songs of all time – and it famously appears at the beginning of another iconic Christmas movie, Die Hard. Naming a film “Let It Snow”, then, is setting yourself up for some potentially unfavourable comparisons. But Netflix’s new young adult flick is a surprisingly charming Christmas treat.
Based on the novel by Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle, and John Green, it retains the anthology format of several tales in the same town all taking place on the same day. There’s the slightly awkward Tobin (Mitchell Hope) and goofy BFF Angie (Kiernan Shipka), who find themselves hanging with an older student (Matthew Noszka), only for Tobin to realise that he’s in love with her. There’s Addie (Odeya Rush), who worries her boyfriend is cheating on her, but finds her phone-watching ways challenged by a strange woman who drives around town in a tin foil hat (a wonderful Joan Cusack). And there’s Addie’s friend, Dorrie (Liv Hewson), who works at the local waffle joint and is delighted to see cheerleader Tegan (Anna Akana), with whom she hooked up in the summer – only to be heartbroken when Tegan acts like she doesn’t know her.
All that worry and melancholy, meanwhile, is effortlessly counterbalanced by smart teen Julia (Isabel Merced) repeatedly crossing paths with Stuart (Shameik Moore), a young pop star. He finds solace in her life away from the limelight, while she finds inspiration in his success, as she wrestles with the idea of leaving home to go to university despite her mother being ill.
Laura Solon, Victoria Strouse, and Kay Cannon adapt the book with a wonderfully breezy touch, able to find the right balance between the all-consuming nature of teenage angst and the feel-good lightness if a Christmas movie. The cast, meanwhile, are uniformly superb, from Sabrina star Shipka bringing chemistry and charisma to her believable friendship to Liv Hewson and Anna Akana giving weight, nuance and joy to their romance in a script that refreshingly treats it as a completely ordinary, normal part of life. Spider-Man scene-stealer Jacob Batalon is typically likeable as the school DJ desperate to throw a cool party, while The Good Place’s D’Arcy Carden is pitch-perfect as Stuart’s snooty publicist – the ideal counterpoint to Isabel Merced and Shameik Moore (deservedly getting a showcase for his talents), who epitomise the kind of earnestness that make Let It Snow endearingly honest and sincere.
At only 90 minutes, the result is never anything but predictable, but also never outstays its welcome, all the while tapping into relatable themes such as being attached to your smartphone and placing stressful expectations on yourself. Throughout, director Luke Snellin retains a naturalistic tone, and astutely ensures that festive fatigue never sets in by picking an unexpectedly diverse soundtrack. That the titular song doesn’t appear once is indicative of just how unexpectedly winning this potentially cheesy affair is.
Let It Snow is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.