Saturday, 31 December 2016

12 Days of Christmas - Black Mirror Christmas

"So thanks to you, some dork meets a girl, not much of a Christmas story..."

On the sixth day of Christmas, Black Mirror also gave to me...only bloody Jon Hamm!
Well this was a White Christmas but necessarily like the ones you used to know. Black Mirror's 2014 Christmas special saw writer Charlie Brooker go feature length and director Carl Tibbetts get crazy fortuitous as Jon Hamm just declared his love for the series and his interest in appearing in it one way or another, the result being this interlinked triptych of stories, combining as ever to chilling effect.

Hamm plays Matt, a man working in some unspecified remote location and sharing a cabin with Rafe Spall's Joe. They've been living together for five years without really communicating but this particular morning, Joe wakes up to Matt making Christmas dinner, determined to get the story of how he ended up in this isolated place. And sure enough, it is a tale of human exploitation of technological advancement.

Matt opens the storytelling by recounting both what he did for fun (using in-eye tech to coach young men into sexual encounters via low-key negging) and what he did for work (torturing digital copies of people into being their slaves) before entering into this apparent purgatory, both proving effectively creepy scenarios. But the drama really kicks in once Joe starts to open up about the truth of his situation.

The way in which the three separate strands sinuously link together is cleverly done and it is an episode full of tiny callbacks to the wider Black Mirror universe, seeming to suggest for the first time (I think) that these stories all take place in the same realm. Hamm is very good but Spall is excellent as the haunted Joe, barely aware of what he's saying or doing until it is too late, time and time again. So here it is, Merry Christmas.

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