Love, Norwegian style

Film review: Home for Christmas

Home for Christmas

Photo: Terje Bendiksby / NTB
Ida Elise Broch portrays a young Norwegian woman looking for love in the original Norwegian series “Hjem til jul” (2019), now streaming for American audiences on Netflix.

Olympia, Wash.

The need for love is universal—and so is the joy, pain, satisfaction, disappointment, euphoria, and devastation that comes along with this most powerful of human emotions. We get all of this and more in the Norwegian take on love, Home for Christmas (Hjem til jul), a six-episode series now streaming on Netflix.

It’s the holidays, and hospital nurse Johanne (Ida Elise Broch in a charmingly heartrending role) has broken up with the guy her family and friends thought she would marry for three years now. They all want Joanne to find a partner in romance, so that she can then wed and have kids. No one is more fervent than her one-track-mind mom (Anette Hoff), who is relentless in pushing and prodding her daughter into domestic bliss. Finally, in a fit of helpless frustration, she announces to those assembled at the dinner table (where she is callously crammed in between her twin nephews’ highchairs) that she has a boyfriend, and they will all meet him at Christmas.

Only one problem with this declaration: it is unabashed B.S.

And, so, begins the quirky quest to land a lad, so that everyone will at last leap off Johanne’s beleaguered back. And what a long, strange trip it is.

As she ventures down a prickly path, prime with both pitfalls and pragmatism, Johanne endures, in no particular order: scary speed daters, same-sex sex, escape room rumbles, a teen crush, and a dreamy doctor. And that’s not even close to exhausting the exhausting experiences this game gal endures on her time-crunched trek through travails and tribulations.

Never, ever, ever one to reveal a resolution, I will simply offer this: You may well be disappointed with the final image Home for Christmas leaves us with as the sixth and final installment closes. Then again, you may not. Either way, take a few moments to consider what we see, and you may come to the place I arrived.

Yeah. This is how it should end.

Be advised that this is no holiday fare for cozying up with kids. The language is often off-color, and the sexual liaisons leave little to the imagination. However, if grownups are looking for a little spice in your entertainment eggnog, try unwrapping Home for Christmas as an early gift for making it most of the way to the welcome end of a most trying 2020.

En veldig god jul til alle!

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 27, 2020, 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