The New Christmas Canon: In Bruges captures the existential weight of the Christmas season

In The New Christmas Canon, The A.V. Club looks beyond Rudolph’s nose and Zuzu’s petals to highlight entertainment from the ’90s, ’00s, and ’10s that’s become a seasonal staple—or deserves to.

Amidst the bright lights, the crackling fires, and the good cheer, the Christmas season has always retained a melancholic edge. This emotional undercurrent is most likely the result of myriad reasons—the oppressive weight of seasonal jubilee, the extended time spent with family, the unavoidable crass commercialism—but one stands out more than the most: The constant reminder of one’s own mortality. It’s easier to ignore the inevitable facts of aging and death in the spring and summer months when the sun shines brightest. During the longest, coldest nights of December, the harsh truths of life creep out from underneath the darkest places within us. Christmas is a notoriously existential holiday because …

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