Netflix’s lineup of holiday entertainment continues this week with Let It Snow, a new rom-com that’s serving major Love Actually vibes. In fact, it’s basically a teen version of the beloved 2003 movie. Starring Kiernan Shipka, Joan Cusack, Isabela Merced, and Shameik Moore, among others, Let It Snow follows several intertwined stories, all of which take place on a snowy Christmas Eve in Laurel, Illinois. The frigid, unexpected weather has everyone in town out of sorts, leading to some very interesting events.
First, there’s Julie (Merced), who finds herself stuck on a train with Stuart Bale (Moore), a famous pop star touring nearby. Then, we have Tobin (Mitchell Hope), who’s harboring romantic feelings for his longtime best friend, Angie, aka The Duke (Shipka). And finally, we see two other good friends, Addie (Odeya Rush) and Dorrie (Liv Hewson), navigate their own love problems: Addie with her emotionally unavailable boyfriend, and Dorrie with a cheerleader from another school who happens to show up at the restaurant where she works. At the heart of these stories is Keon (Jacob Batalon), who just wants to DJ an epic Christmas Eve party. Eventually, he does—and that’s where all the aforementioned characters end up by the movie’s end. Make sense?
You can see the Love Actually parallels from that synopsis alone. Both movies feature several love stories that, at first, seem disconnected but ultimately morph together; they’re incredibly sentimental; and most important, the energy of the holiday season pulses throughout them. It’s exactly the kind of movie Shipka thinks people need to see right now.
“I think the world could always use a little bit more love,” she tells Glamour. “And I think holiday movies are very driven by love and happiness and fuzzy feelings.”
Moore feels similarly. “Everyone loves to unwind and watch something lighthearted to get them in the holiday mood,” he says. “There’s a lane and a mood and a time for it.”
But Let It Snow is more than just your standard Christmas movie, Shipka says. It has a real, beating heart—even without the tinsel.
“With all good Christmas movies, if you strip away the holiday [themes], there’s still a story underneath it,” she tells me. “And I think the holidays—Christmas Eve and Christmas, in the instance of our movie—it’s definitely a plot point, but it’s really not about that. It’s about these characters. I think people really love a good movie with an honest take on life.”
That being said, both Moore and Shipka are aware of the parallels Let It Snow has to Love Actually and think they’re valid. “Love Actually is a classic,” Shipka says. “Obviously the movies are formatted in similar ways. I totally get the comparisons. [But] I think our film is very obviously of the time. It’s very modern, and that’s what I love about it, is that it feels perfect for 2019.”
It absolutely does. Diversity is in Let It Snow’s DNA, with characters and love stories that span race, gender, sexual orientation, and body type. The best part? It doesn’t make a thing out of that—these are just people in the world, living their lives and finding love.
“More people are going to be able to relate to it [because of the diversity],” Merced says. “It wasn’t a political move. Netflix has always been supportive of diversity in all senses. It’s been way past time that we have representation [like this], and Netflix is doing it. I’m really happy to be a part of it.”
The female characters in Let It Snow also break the mold of what we see in holiday rom-coms. Julie doesn’t fawn over Stuart when she meets him on the train. She has more important things on her mind, like college and her mom. It’s only as they get to know each other that she starts opening up. Meanwhile, Shipka says her own character, Angie, is incredibly “self-assured.”
“I like that she’s droll and straightforward in a way that I hadn’t played before,” the Chilling Adventure of Sabrina actor tells me. “I play Sabrina nine months out of the year in Vancouver, and she’s very peppy and type-A. I wanted something that was way different than that, and I felt that with [Angie].”
It’s characters like Angie and Julie that will make people love Let It Snow. Yes, they’re flawed and realistic, but they exist in an almost snow-globe environment. It’s the perfect mixture of reality and fantasy—almost like a Gilmore Girls Christmas episode. Basically, you’ll relate to the people on screen while also being transported to a winter wonderland. What more could you want?
“I want this to be a movie people rewatch and rewatch and rewatch,” Shipka says. “I want people to find themselves in a character, and I want people to resonate with the storylines. I want them to wonder what happens to these people after this Christmas Eve and this Christmas.”
Christopher Rosa is the staff entertainment writer at Glamour. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrosa92.
Originally Appeared on Glamour