Hackney Downs Studio is transformed into a winter wonderland as Londoners congregate to watch one of the most iconic Christmas films of all time.
From the outside the studios are nothing special but as you enter the building you are led to a dimly lit room with a wardrobe in the wall. From there you push through an array of coats, as if it were a scene straight out of Narnia and arrive in the screening room - which is covered in snow. The décor in the room is simple enough not to be distracting but adds a bit more magic to the Christmassy atmosphere.
At first I was sceptical, why should I go out on a cold night to see a film I could just watch in bed on my laptop with my pyjamas on? But, as the film started, and I sat there covered in fake snow there was a real sense of community as we all laughed while Billy Mack blundered through ‘Christmas is all around me’ in the opening scene. Watching a well-loved film on the big screen is a different experience in itself but, being in a space tailored to the theme of a film really transforms your experience of it. Although the pop-up was made to be more of a winter-wonderland than specific to Love actually, the quaintly decorated room certainly added to the festive feel of the film.
This Christmas pop-up is definitely something to add to the calendar and is perfect for a simple wintry night out, the concept is simple but the small added extras like a bar selling festive drinks such as mulled wine, cider and baileys hot chocolate (as well as plenty of non-alcoholic drinks) make the experience just that little bit more special.
Watching the film on a big screen amplifies certain moments; there was a sense of tension throughout the room as John and Judy (Martin Freeman and Joanna Page) make awkward small talk as they get down to business as body doubles, and there were tears all round as Emma Thompson’s character – Karen, finds out her husband’s been having an affair as she struggles to maintain normality. Meanwhile, her on screen brother, Hugh Grant, sent the room into fits of laughter as he danced around number 10 Downing street to ‘Jump (for my love)’ by the Pointer Sisters after standing up to the US president.
Overall the experience of attending the Hackney Showrooms Christmas pop-up was pleasantly surprising. I wasn’t sure at first whether the experience of watching the film would be worth traveling out to see it on a cold night but, if you can spare the money and fancy a festive treat it’s definitely worthwhile – a great way to get yourself feeling festive for the Christmas period ahead. And although there is (fake) snow, the showroom is not cold so there’s no ned to worry too much about layering up for this event! All in all, the experience was enjoyable, and I would definitely recommend it to both first timers and even the most seasoned Christmas film fanatics!