Who better to encapsulate all that represents Christmas and cram it all into just one frame than Steven Spielberg, the king of schmaltz and sentiment? His underrated gem, Catch Me If You Can, sometimes unfairly dismissed as flimsy and insubstantial (it’s neither), is a genuine joy.
Filled with wit, style and sunny imagery the film recounts the exploits of real life con-man Frank William Abagnale, Jr (Leonardo Di Caprio). But, this being a Spielberg film, there’s still plenty of time for warm, intimate snapshots of the everyday family. Just take a look at this shot from early on in the film, offering a glimpse of Abagnale’s contented upbringing. With typical Spielbergian warm lighting, a beautiful Christmas tree, vibrant colour tones, candlelight, and an idealised (or some may say mawkish) image of the family dynamic.
Of course if that all sounds too sickly for you, it is counteracted by a moment later on when, after his parents (pictured here) have separated, his mother has remarried and his father eventually passed on, the on the run Abagnale looks through the window of his mother’s house on Christmas and sees a perfect image of the family, but is blocked off from it. It’s a really affecting moment made all the stronger because of its juxtaposition with this little snippet here.