La Nochebuena is My Sentence is a Brazilian film directed by Paulo Cursino, released on December 3, 2020, on the popular streaming platform Netflix. This comedic fantasy movie revolves around the familiar Christmas celebration, shedding light on the similarities between Brazilian and Spanish holiday festivities.
A Critical Look at ‘La Nochebuena is My Sentence’
- Title: La Nochebuena is My Sentence (Tudo Bem No Natal Que Vem in the original language)
- Cast: Arianne Botelho (Aninha), Louise Cardoso (Teodora), José Rubens Chachá (Tio Victor), Rodrigo Fagundes (Luiz Cláudio), Levi Ferreira (Vô Nhanhão), Leandro Hassum (Jorge), Giselle Lopes (Soraia), Elisa Pinheiro (Laura), Miguel Rômulo (Leozinho)
- Year: 2020
- Duration: 100 min.
- Country: Brazil
- Director: Roberto Santucci
- Screenplay: Paulo Cursino
- Photography: Julio Costantini
- Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
- Distributor: Netflix
Trapped in a time loop where it’s Christmas forever, a family man who despises the holiday begins to learn valuable lessons about what truly matters in life.
Where to Watch the Movie
La Nochebuena is My Sentence is available for streaming on Netflix.
La Nochebuena is My Sentence and Jorge’s Birthday
The screenplay, written by Paulo Cursino, introduces us to the main characters of the film, a young couple with children, as they are about to celebrate Christmas. Jorge (played by Leandro Hassum), the father, was born on Christmas day in 1982, making it both a celebration of Christmas and his birthday. As the movie progresses, we are introduced to other colorful family members connected to the main protagonist.
Jorge, the main character, despises Christmas. During the preparation of a special decoration for Nochebuena, he suffers a domestic accident and a significant blow to the head. When he wakes up a year later, he has no recollection of what happened. His confusion intensifies when he regains consciousness the following year, during the same time period.
Not remembering anything from the previous months, he realizes that he is condemned to relive Christmas over and over again. From 2010 to 2021, he experiences the fear of Christmas year after year. To amplify the comedic situations, the plot repeats the same scenes with the same characters, providing subtle hints to indicate the specific annual celebration.
The cast of La Nochebuena is My Sentence, directed by Roberto Santucci, reappears in each celebration, portraying the same characters with their distinctive comedic traits. Other significant characters include Laura (Elisa Pinheiro), the mother; Marcia (Danielle Winits), the mistress; and Uncle Victor (José Rubens Chachá). The rest of the cast, including Teodora (Louise Cardoso), Luiz Claudio (Rodrigo Fagundes), Aninha (Arianne Botelho), and Leo (Miguel Rômulo), deliver remarkable performances.
Tropical Christmases in the Summer
The always longed-for and socially expected Christmas spirit can become a source of stress for families, even in Brazil. Traditional elements, such as feasts, obligatory visits, and nearly mandatory gifts, are common occurrences. Not to mention the frequently made but often unfulfilled resolutions and plans for the new year.
La Nochebuena is My Sentence employs its characters to develop a farcical comedy, enhanced by the exaggerated gestures and rapid speech of the main protagonist, Jorge, who loathes Christmas.
The diverse roles in the storyline resonate with viewers who have experienced similar situations. The absent-minded grandfather, unable to join the celebrations due to physical or mental decline; the overprotective grandmother devoted to her grandchildren; the clumsy or overbearing brother-in-law; the disagreeable uncle who unwittingly disrupts the expected harmonious atmosphere of the celebration; and the children who bring joy to the festivities, providing a counterbalance to the adult world.
In this sense, La Nochebuena is My Sentence offers a multifaceted view that is relatable across cultures, despite the distance between continents. Whether Christmas is celebrated during the Brazilian summer, features Roberto Carlos’s songs, or includes traditional dishes like turkey, tiramisu, and panettone, these details add local flavor.
The plot also includes the usual phone calls from other family members and the typical “Christmas family squabbles.”
The Yearly Christmas Loop
By this point in the movie, viewers have become accustomed to the general crude humor of this well-off family, with Jorge as the absent-minded and clumsy patriarch. Meanwhile, the other characters react based on their distinct personalities and roles within the family comedy.
Laura, Jorge’s long-suffering wife, does her best to navigate her relationship with her husband and interactions with other family members. Year after year, Jorge’s brother-in-law continues with his ambitious projects, always eager to impress Jorge.
In the meantime, the children have grown and matured more than the adults. They have taken on more significant roles in their own lives, unbeknownst to their parents, who now find themselves as grandparents. The only external intrusion into the family framework is Marcia, Jorge’s mistress, whose desire for a larger role goes unnoticed.
Julio Costantini’s cinematography in La Nochebuena is My Sentence discreetly captures the “family carnival” without any particularly dazzling shots. The soundtrack consists of internationally recognized Christmas tunes.
Subtle elements in the screenplay add depth to the family gathering. The blackmailing attitude of the mistress, the death of the turkey’s uncle, the illness of the daughter who has become a mother, and the scarce but meaningful words of the seemingly absent and mute grandfather.
Secondary characters, such as the concierge Owaldinho, provide a breath of fresh air in the midst of the cyclic performances and situations that define the yearly Christmas loop. The conclusion of La Nochebuena is My Sentence, a light-hearted family comedy, will likely please those seeking an enjoyable and uplifting movie.
Conclusion: Finding Meaning in ‘La Nochebuena is My Sentence’
La Nochebuena is My Sentence may seem like a lighthearted comedy, but it offers more than just frivolous entertainment. Between the lines of the characters’ interpretations lies a thought-provoking narrative that reflects common situations experienced within our own families.
The Christmas season can be approached in various ways, depending on our reflective attitudes. It can be a time for introspection, a moment to pause and contemplate the essential value of life.
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