A Storm for Christmas and its crazy cast of characters

The holidays are not always what you expect …

Image courtesy of Netflix

John Smistad
Olympia, Wash.

Synopsis: Christmas Eve is fast approaching. A super snowstorm for the ages is pounding the Oslo airport without mercy. All flights in or out are either canceled or delayed until God only knows when. Literally.

Enthused or desperate to get to where they are going, a wide-ranging group of would-be passengers are forced to manage the best they can as they all play a weary waiting game. Not only with the unrelenting and unforgiving weather.

But, perhaps even more stridently, with each other …

NOTE: You may want to watch this one in a couple of batches …

Episodes 1 through 3

It is quite a curious collection of characters that director and co-writer Per-Olav Sørensen introduces us to in rapid-fire fashion in the Netflix series A Storm for Christmas. Sørensen has mined the Jul time for a streaming series story before, having previously and poignantly presented Home for Christmas (also on Netflix and co-starring the captivating Ida Elise Broch).

Here’s who we meet and monitor in the opening three episodes:

A pop-music star who is consumed with nothing beyond her own upturned nose. And the dutiful assistant who bears the brunt of it.

An alcoholic concert pianist coming to terms with the sobering possibility that he is losing his magic touch with the ivories.

A burned-out pilot who bah-humbugs the holiday spirit out of a cheery and chipper lass he meets in an airport lounge.

A take-no-prisoners high-stakes businesswoman who will stop at nothing to get to her next corporate conquest. And the driver who is subjected to her spiteful wrath.

A philandering filly, harassed via video phone by a hubby who demands she return home by Christmas … or else.

A mom struggling mightily to get her school-age son to a potentially life-saving medical procedure.

A bartender battling with an internal struggle, his face a periodic portrait of pain.

A baggage handler who has a soft spot for a marooned pooch.

A young woman who seems to be striving to connect with a father she has never met.

An airport minister, questioning her purpose, valiantly endeavoring to extract the identity from a mysterious and non-communicative elderly fellow.

A surly Santa who is certainly not sending a jolly ol’ St. Nick vibe.

A married couple on the skids ignoring their teen daughter until faced with an alarming wake-up call.

A guy in a garish flowered shirt who may, or may not, be headed toward a blizzard-free tropical vacation.

All intersect in various ways and to varying degrees. Had the clouds been more cooperative, these decidedly divergent souls likely would have passed each other in the night. Linked involuntarily, and inextricably, will the chains forged now ever be broken?

Episodes 4 through 6

A recurring theme in A Storm for Christmas is that of “underlings.” Hearty, hard-working folk. Among these backbones of civilization we catch in action here: bartenders, ticket counter agents, hostesses and personal assistants. All of whom would appear to exist exclusively to be punished like punching bags by the self-possessed privileged. To be boorishly and brutally berated. To be constantly and callously crapped upon.

Oh, but how the tables do turn …

It all comes to pass in the eye of the storm. As eyes once blind are opened wide and all we have witnessed and learned culminates in a collective opening of the heart.

To wit …

And a child shall lead a shoddy Santa. As her forever-feuding folks carry on begrudgingly, though nevertheless admittedly, in love.

An ego-engulfed singer finds a lyricist right under a nose now not so upturned. And may well have found her soul mate to boot with … a cold heart thawed while serving hot meals to the homeless.

A petered-out piano player rejuvenates his jam, picks up a pupil and plays the unlikely hero as he saves the day for a profoundly grateful mom.

A most unexpected reunion is jarringly interrupted. Then “regains its footing.”

A grimly glum pilot finds that naive actually looks pretty good on this gloriously glass-half-full gal.

A chauffeur with a heart of gold finds refuge in the arms of a security officer.

Having helped solve the mystery of a sweetly bewildered gray-bearded guy, a clergywoman is clear as this crisp Christmas morning about what she has in common with the fella in the gaudy garb.

A young woman buried in relationship unrest uncovers her truth with a little help from a good Samaritan in a “vintage” pickup truck.

Christmas in the pound was not the ticket for a “Chinese Crested” thanks to a young lad for whom “man’s best friend” is, at least for the moment at any rate, the only company he’ll keep.

There is a gripping moment of a family restored to three. It will stop you. As it serves to remind us that what matters most knows no season.

Oh, and this one last thing: Sure, A Storm for Christmas is kind of contrived. It’s a feel-good holiday flick for fa-la-la-ing out loud. So, to any Scrooges out there, put a stocking hung by the chimney with care in it, will ya? Either that, or we will drown you out with a rousing refrain of “ho ho hos!”

This article originally appeared in the December 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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John Smistad

John Smistad is a published author of short stories, poems, essays, and movie reviews. He lives and loves with his family and cat in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. He is the fiercely proud son of a native Norwegian dad. (He loves his mom, too.) You can follow him as on his blog at thequickflickcritic.blogspot.com.