“December 23”: holiday madness in the heart of a film by India Desjardins

“We will arrive at Christmas at the same time as everyone else,” we often say, as the holiday season approaches. This very local expression, which perfectly sums up the mad rush that preceded Christmas Eve, inspired India Desjardins a lot when writing her romantic comedy. December 23, a project he has been carrying with him for more than ten years. “I wanted to make a unifying and bright Christmas film,” she confides.

• Read also: India Desjardins did not expect to be in the heart of a storm

For the author and screenwriter it is therefore an old dream that finally comes true with the release, on November 25, of this ensemble film that brings together a myriad of stars, including Virginie Fortin, François Arnaud, Catherine Brunet, Stéphane Rousseau , Guylaine Tremblay, Michel Barrette and Bianca Gervais.

A big fan of Christmas films, India Desjardins has long wanted to write one that reflects how we experience the holiday season in Quebec. A series of events that rocked her Christmas 2011 gave her an idea for a film that she started writing shortly after.

“That year, my stepfather had a heart attack and it turned our day upside down,” says the author of the hit series. Aurélie Laflamme’s diaryinterviewed a Tree trunk.

“There are a lot of funny coincidences that happened that day. I love Christmas movies and this day’s twists have inspired me. Holidays are such a stressful time where you put a lot of pressure on yourself. An illness or a snowstorm is enough to reverse our plans. In American Christmas movies, a magical snowfall often falls at the end. But for us it’s not magical when you have to visit your family on the other side of the province during a big snow storm.

François Arnaud and Catherine Brunet in the film 23 December.

Courtesy photo

François Arnaud and Catherine Brunet in the film 23 December.


India Desjardins doesn’t hide it: writing this rare Quebec Christmas film was long and tiring. The author admits that he often questioned the project, so much so that the script was finally brought to the screen by director Miryam Bouchard (My circus) is “maybe the 573rd version,” he laughs.

“I was my first obstacle, he admits. I often have the impostor syndrome and have challenged myself by including several characters in the script and insisting that the film take place in just one day. If I had written a story spread over several weeks, the stakes would have been higher, but it wouldn’t have been the same story. I found it funny, to tell the chaos of a day.

Comparisons with Current love – a classic of the genre – are evident. India Desjardins, however, brings some nuances.

“That’s for sure Current love it’s one of my influences, because it’s a film that I love. But I quickly realized you can’t compete with that. First of all, because it’s a film that cost $ 45 million and we, in Quebec, make films for $ 4-5 million, ”she says.

female characters

Built like a choral film, December 23 tells the adventures of different characters whose destinies cross, on the eve of Christmas Eve. As she has always done in her novels, India Desjardins wanted to propose strong female characters.

“What I criticize about Christmas films aimed at the general public is that they are often centered around male main characters, he complains. I wanted to make a film where the female characters weren’t defined by their love story.

India Desjardins also wanted to have fun by inserting different elements that she had dreamed of for a long time. Thus, the feature film was partly shot in the majestic setting of the Château Frontenac, very magical with its sparkling decorations. You can also listen to several Quebec Christmas songs, such as Beau Dommage and Maryse Letarte.

“For me the film is a cream of sugar, he sums up. I didn’t want to reinvent the genre. I know the codes of the Christmas films well, I took them and I adapted them to my values.

As for the distribution, it was she who came up with the idea of ​​giving Virginie Fortin one of the main roles in the film, saying she had “the same style of humor as her”. The character she plays, the author of children’s novels, can also be seen as a kind of alter ego of India Desjardins.

The film December 23 will hit theaters as Quebecs prepare for their first “normal” Christmas in three years. A nice coincidence, according to India Desjardins.

“I’m glad it comes out after the pandemic because I think we need to see things that put us in a good mood. Personally, I’ve peaked in the dark in recent years. There, I want people to make me happy, make me laugh and make me laugh. This is what we wanted to do with this film.

December 23 opens November 25th.

His five favorite Christmas movies

India Desjardins isn’t one who waits until December to start watching Christmas movies. Here are five classics of the genre that he never tires of revisiting.

Vacation (The holiday) by Nancy Mayers

It’s the perfect, sweet, funny and romantic movie! Furthermore, it is one of the few classics to feature women as protagonists. And the writer and director, Nancy Meyers, is one of my idols.

Ghosts in celebration (Banged), by Richard Donner

This is my favorite version of the Charles Dickens tale. One of the scenes made me laugh so much when I was little that this film has always remained one of my favorites.

Really love (Current love), by Richard Curtis

Anyone who doesn’t shed at least a tear when the little guy jumps through airport security to reach his sweetheart is sure to have a heart of stone. And the perfect wink to the screenwriter: there comes that moment when the singer keeps his promise on TV and distracts everyone, which allows him this opportunity. Everything has aged badly in this film, but I can never help but love it.

Mom, I’ve missed the flight (Home alone), by Chris Columbus

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

The music of this film alone marked one or more generations. A few notes are enough to bring us back to the holiday spirit. And let’s face it, without the music, this movie would be pretty sad. ”

Father of the family (The man of the family), by Brett Ratner

This film is a mixture of my worst nightmare and something that touches my romantic fiber. I can’t go a year without watching it. “

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