A boy is watching television. It was Christmas countdown time in Broadway, New York, full of people. A woman calls a child. The child's does not take his eyes off the television screen. The woman is angry and says that he must look at her when she talks to her. The child walks out of the house. Outside of the house, we see some hay, with strings of corn hung out to dry amidst what looks like a junk yard with old car tyres, the broken parts of a dismembered truck and other trash. The boys walks through a narrow door into a broken down and deserted church, reaches the altar, puts his hand into the sacristy, retrieves a toy, takes it, walks out. After a while the mother follows, crying out his name. She goes into the deserted church, calling out his name all the time, comes out, walking up what looks like the steel staircase of a nearby refinery. They were seen through the lenses of the rifle of a masked sniper, with finger ready to press upon the trigger. It is aimed at the child, then the woman, then the child, then the woman, then when the woman closes in on the child, first at the child and then at the woman. The finger hesitates and reaches up to remove the masks.
The scene switches to that of a woman busy making the house looking nice with flowers and candles. A fat man arrives. They embrace. They go into a bed room, take off their clothes, and starts making passionate love at the end. They fall over the bed. The woman cries out to the man not to stop. At the end of the tumultuous sessio, the man leaves and promises to do the divorce papers after Christmas. The woman says he has been saying that last year. He says it is difficult. She asks him how he can love two women at the same time. He says he can. He leaves. The woman sulks.
The scene then switches to an another house, with another woman arranging flowers and preparing for Christmas, She calls a bespactacled middle aged man sitting behind a desk who promises to be home as soon as possible because he is on duty.Then a red truck arrives outside. It stops. A young man Paul ( Trond Fausa Aurvag) comes out, opens the door, goes into the room, sits down, begs the man sitting behind the office desk Dr. Knut ( Fridtjv Saheim) for something. The man says he cannot because if he does, he may lose his job. The young man begs him, saying that he really need to do so because it was quite unfair that he should be kept out from seeing his children because of his violence and that he has no other alternative and asks the doctor if he has any. He hasn't. He says it is Christmas time. The man behind the desk yields.
A telephone rings. The man behind the desk takes up the phone. He says he'll fix up the star on top of the Christmas tree when he's home but that he is still on duty and will be back as soon as he is off duty. We see the woman in a house, leaving off her food prepapration in the kitchen and to decorate a Christmas tree in the sitting room. He says he loves her and really like to have a child with her. She replies that he never seems to have time.
The scene switches again. A young boy is looking at an electric train inside a shop window bathed in yellow light amidst the snow outside. Another black girl is coming out. She joins him in window shopping. They seem to know each other. She asks him what he is doing there. He says nothing, just walking. She asks him if he is celebrating Christmas. He lies that his family never does. She says hers neither because she is Muslim. She asks him if he would like to come into her house, just round corner. He hesitates and goes in. He is shown all her favourite gadgets including a telescope on her roof. She shows him how to use it. He does but sees he saw nothing. She says that's because it is still too early and that the stars will only come out later.
The scene switches to another man, cowering beneath the cold alone on the snow covered pavement, waiting for passers by. In front of him is a cup with some seed money. He has nothing to do, looks at the shop window, then sits down again. A young man approaches. He tells him that he needed some money for a train ticket to Norway but the young man says he is in hurry.
The scene switches again. We are shown the corner of a flight of wooden stairs. Some wooden boards are being lifted up, but drops, is lifted up, drops agains against the stair landing corner wall and finally disappears. Then we see another board, this time smaller being dragged up that same wooden staircase landing corner with difficulty. We next see an old man, with very slow movement. He goes to a wardrobe, carefully lifts an old grey ladies dress with tiny inconspicuous floral pattern off a hanger, places it on a wooden ironing board, then puts a white cloth above it again and starts ironing it with an steam electric iron, part by part. Suddenly, a red drop appears on the white cloth above the dress. He hesitates. Then another red drop appears close to the first one. He stops, put his hand to his nose and discovers it is bleeding, He goes to the washroom, wipes it off, and sticks some rolled up tissue to one side of his nostril to stop the bleeding and continues with the ironing.
In the meantime, the man behind the desk is home, with a bottle of good wine, kisses his wife, fixes the star and is preparing to sit down for dinner when the telephone rings. He takes the call. He apologizes to his wife. It is an emergency call. He says he will be down in 5 minutes. He stops his car near a snow covered telephone booth. Suddenly another young man appears. He says it is urgent. He flashes out a knife and pushes it against his neck. The doctor asks him to stay calm and that he would go even if he doesn't force him to and ask him for the direction how to go to where he wants. They drive through the snow, through some woods and finally stops at a log cabin. A fire is blazing at the hearth, the picture of domestic bliss. In front of it is a bed. On the bed is a woman. The doctor asks for hot water, puts on his gloves and asks the man to help hold the woman down. After some crying and shrieking, a baby is delivered. There is a look of contentment on the woman's face. They have time for a talk. He asks why they are there. The young man says he is a Serb whilst the woman is Albanian and there is no way they could stay together at home and so they came to Germany and live in a nearby church but since it is Christmas, too many people are coming and they move to where they are. He says he has a sister in Sweden but has neither money nor transport to go there. So it looks as if they'll be stuck here in the meantime. The young man thanks the Dr. Knut profusely and sees him off. His car drives off. Before it has moved a few car spaces, it stops, reverses. The doctor comes out, gives the key of his car to the young man and tells him to send a letter on the arrangement for him to get back his car when the young couple are in Sweden and trudges in the snow on foot. He is looking up at the stars in the heaven and looks happy. The dramatic irony is obvious: only time for other's baby and children!
The scene then switches back to the two children who are now looking at the night sky. The stars have come out. The girl tells the boy that the brightest star in the heavens is the Sirius and that some say that it might be the star of Bethlehem which shows the way of the wise men to the infant Jesus. The boy kisses the girl.
The scene then cuts from the children to an old couple seen going out on sledges to the house of an even older woman. They arrive. We see them seeing an old lady lying in bed, with the freshly ironed grey dress on her, still with the now smudged remains of the nose bleed in front it. She appears quite happy that she got visitors. The scene then quickly switches to a church. The woman we saw making love to her lover, is late for church. She goes in front asking of an empty seat and ironically is given one by her lover's wife in the church to the tune of Christmas carols. We see them sitting in the same row from right to left: the woman, thew wife, the husband, their two young children.
The scene switches again. We see the young man who begged the doctor for the forbidden stuff driving his red truck. He arrives at a house, stops, gets off, looks in through the window. He sees two children watching televsion and playing with some toys on the ground. He goes to a nearby shed, opens the door, and find a red Santa Claus outfit hanging on the wall and some cartons already gift-wrapped on the floor. He looks at the nameson the card outside of each and who gave it. He dons the Santa Claus outfit, put the gifts into a bag, slungs it over his shoulder and dons a Santa Claus mask, walks towards the house. He approaches the house, looks in at the window again and sees another man behind the woman, his hands working on her body from behind. She appears to enjoy it. He goes back into the shed, takes out a bottle of gin and takes some. After a while, the shed door opens. He uses a hankerchief and sticks it against the man's nose. The man faints, but not completely. They struggle. A shovel upon his head finishes him off. The young man walks towards the house as Santa Claus, gives the gifts to the children, who open them, are are delighted. One got an MP-3, the other a mobile phone. The woman asks the children to thank the man, takes him to the kitchen, embraces him, reaches her hand for his crotch and tells him he can revert to his normal voice now. To her surprise, he does not and leaves, goes back to the shed, and attempts to wake up the fainted man by giving him a little liquor and then leaves. He reacehes a church, tries to get in. But the door is locked. He tries to push it open. It doesn't. He leaves and continues driving in the the street, reaches town centre, sees a manger in a Christmas decoration in front of a restaurant, takes the baby off the manger , hugs it and places it on the seat next to the driver's seat and continues his journey.
The scene switches now back to the beggar. He is found near a caravan. He touches the door of first one caravan, then another. A burglar alarm sounds when the door of the second is touched. A woman emerges and ask what he is doing, then recognizes that he was her old flame Johannes. She asks him how he has been. The police arrives. She said the alarm was accidentally tripped and that there's no problem. The police grumbles and leaves. She invites the man into her caravan, allows him to take a bath and a shave and gives him some left over Christmas dinner and a cigarette and they reminisce about old times. We next see the man on the streets again but this time on a manger. The police searches him, finds a train ticket for his home town in Norway and packs him off to the train. We next see him on the train looking out of the window, all alone. The train reaches a station on the way. Two ambulance man was waiting. They are shown by the train attendant to where the man is. They check him out and after a short look say he is gone. They rummage through his pocket and discover who he is. The older ambulance man says that he used to be a top footballer in which match with what result and how at the height of his career, he suddenly disappeared, spoiled according to the older ambulance man, by success, by alcoholism! He is bundled off.
We next switches back to the road. The young couple and the baby suddenly stops. They go out. They look up. The sky is filled with a strange blue and grenish light like some giant vertical waves swaying about and constantly changing shape. It is the aurora borealist. The film ends.
In many ways, it is a tale of connections and re-connection, of frustration and/or reconciliation, of sadness, of pathos and joy and of irony in a lives of a number of different people of different ages and social situation : the masked female assassin relenting, a woman taking a seat in a church beside the wife of her lover, a third woman taking care of her now down and out former lover who dies whilst on the way home, a fourth woman embracing the husband whom she kicked out because of his violence, albeit as Santa Claus to their children, an old couple visiting an even older woman at Christmas and a young couple on their way to Scandinavia, the land of St. Nicolaus, or Santa Claus and witnessing that stunningly beautiful sight from the land of the reindeers at Christmas.
Three features of this film Hjem til jul or Home for Christmas (2010), the sixth by the Norwegian director Bent Hamer, based on a number of stories from the Norwegian writer Levi Henriksen "Only Soft Prseents under the Trees: ( Bare mjuke pakker under treet) which all happened within a few hours in the small town of Skoglii, strikes me most: first, the way in which he director uses color: he would repeated contrast the warmth of yellow light inside the houses with the cold light blue and white of the snow inside, ending in the breathtaking splendor of the aurora borealis (truning green from mixing blue and yelllow?) and secondly the way he transitions one scene to another through montage with either that of one detail in the scene of one story into that of another or through what I would call a thematic montage, by which he links one scene to another through the same kind of feeling evoked in each and finally the way, in which all the themes are tied together by the song, " I want to go home in Christmas" . A most enjoybale film. I'd give it a 2A.