“Sincere, affecting and heart-warming, Christmas in London is a well-crafted and important short film that extends beyond the trappings of being an exclusively festive feature. As a short romance it is touching, and as a fable about homelessness and empathy it is important and powerful. Director Asad Panjwani brings an authenticity to his work that serves both purposes brilliantly – from Zippy’s experience with a useless train conductor to her awkwardness when asked for change from a man prior to her meeting with Cleo, the little moments colour the film and give it both a humour and bite.
Rose Lami and Callum McGregor both deliver strong performances and have genuine and believable chemistry. Zippy’s continuous misfortune is both sympathetic and darkly comic. But when Cleo’s story is told, the film moves into a much more emotional gear. McGregor brings a resilience and strength to Cleo in the face of great tragedy, and Zippy’s initial apprehension giving way to attraction feels natural and earned.
The film’s main strength is a strong portrayal of how small acts of kindness can lead to greater outcomes, and its empathetic and educated understanding around the challenges faced by those living on the streets. Cleo’s misfortune has transferred into an unending cycle designed to keep him trapped in a life that is slowly chipping away at him. He is desperate to escape and restart his life, but the world’s perception of him prevents any progress being made. It is a small selfless act on his behalf that gives Zippy the ability to see him as a human being, and her status may be what gives him a pathway back to his old life. It is this message of empathy that is at the heart of the film, and it is this what gives it its drive.
Whilst Christmas may have gone by, the message of Christmas in London is one for the year round. Asad Panjwani’s short is highly recommended whatever the season.”