A British gangster film set among the tinsel and turkey of Christmas time – but be prepared, there is very little goodwill and quite a lot of violence!
Silent Night is definitely not a feel-good Christmas movie. There are parts that are cathartic, and parts that feature houses decorated roof-to-doorstep with flashing lights, and parts containing a serving of Christmas dinner, but this will not put you in the festive spirit.
The Christmas season is merely the catalyst for Mark (Bradley Taylor) – recently released from prison and determined to get his life back on track – to try to give his daughter her ideal Christmas present. He’s trying hard to keep a job but being an ex-prisoner, society and bureaucracy are against him: so far, so Ken Loach.
However, he cannot shake off his past connections. Figures from his prior life emerge to persuade him to do ‘one last job’ so that he can give his daughter a Christmas to remember and be free of his obligations. The hold of the South London gangs over members past and present is icy, and when Caddy (Frank Harper), a Croydon godfather who is more Fredo than Michael – demands his input to resolve an issue with another ‘family’, Mark sees little choice but to comply.
When one of the characters utters the line “I don’t want you bringing trouble our way”, it’s clear that things are not going to go smoothly for anyone.
And so begins a trail of violence, vengeance and vendetta across South London, until Mark finally realises who has double crossed whom as the Christmas turkey is about to be carved. There’s some clever use of Christmas carols and other seasonal music in the soundtrack which serves to underline the sinister plotting going on, but not much in the way of Christmas sweaters. As Mark’s predicament becomes increasingly tortuous, the estranged wife and daughter plot seems to disappointingly fade away by the end without any obvious resolution, with those characters seemingly having served their purpose in the first act.
Silent Night is a gritty story which is definitely not family viewing over the holidays, but if you are looking for a low-life gangster tale trimmed with a few decorations to remind you that it’s late December, then this will keep you occupied for 90 minutes.