Reviews - Major Releases


Film Review: The Christmas Candle

Only the most diehard fans of holiday pablum will be able to swallow this Bible-banging hunk of whimsy.

Nov 21, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1389968-Christmas_Candle_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

It's 1890 and in the picturesque village of Gladbury, the citizens hold fast to their belief in the local legend of the Christmas candle. Supposedly an angel blesses it every quarter century and the person who lights it on Christmas Eve will be, in turn, blessed by a miracle. But the new minister, David Richmond (Hans Matheson), who is grieving over the deaths of his wife and child and therefore is no believer in miracles, has little use for such fairytales. He counsels his following to be kind to one another, instead of fanatically believing in such nonsense. Richmond meets Emily (Samantha Barks), who is no believer of any sort herself and has a dying father (John Hannah). A wary relationship between the two strikes up, as certain hardships faced by the villagers call for more and more blind faith.

Based on a novel by Max Lucado and directed by John Stephenson, The Christmas Candle strives mightily for holiday classic status, with its sub-Dickensian period atmosphere and moral of human goodness overcoming adversity. Although handsomely photographed and designed, its lack of truly involving characters and its eternal jawing about that infernal Christmas candle do not generate much viewer interest. There's a wealth of cutesy, fubsy eccentrics populating Gladbury, but they seem little more than blustering cartoons. Of course, you know the thing will build to one of those cathartic, life-affirming climaxes like the one in It's a Wonderful Life, and, sure enough, a big cornball scene in the church has the villagers proudly standing up and announcing what miracles have indeed befallen them as a (not always) direct result of that hunk of wax.

Afflicted with the worst male hairdo since Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men, Matheson is unable to make you warm to the insufferably priggish Richmond, but Barks evinces some attractive spirit. TV singing sensation Susan Boyle pops up in a small role, warbles a bit, and is predictably homely and sweeter than sugar, in a bonnet.


Film Review: The Christmas Candle

Only the most diehard fans of holiday pablum will be able to swallow this Bible-banging hunk of whimsy.

Nov 21, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1389968-Christmas_Candle_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

It's 1890 and in the picturesque village of Gladbury, the citizens hold fast to their belief in the local legend of the Christmas candle. Supposedly an angel blesses it every quarter century and the person who lights it on Christmas Eve will be, in turn, blessed by a miracle. But the new minister, David Richmond (Hans Matheson), who is grieving over the deaths of his wife and child and therefore is no believer in miracles, has little use for such fairytales. He counsels his following to be kind to one another, instead of fanatically believing in such nonsense. Richmond meets Emily (Samantha Barks), who is no believer of any sort herself and has a dying father (John Hannah). A wary relationship between the two strikes up, as certain hardships faced by the villagers call for more and more blind faith.

Based on a novel by Max Lucado and directed by John Stephenson, The Christmas Candle strives mightily for holiday classic status, with its sub-Dickensian period atmosphere and moral of human goodness overcoming adversity. Although handsomely photographed and designed, its lack of truly involving characters and its eternal jawing about that infernal Christmas candle do not generate much viewer interest. There's a wealth of cutesy, fubsy eccentrics populating Gladbury, but they seem little more than blustering cartoons. Of course, you know the thing will build to one of those cathartic, life-affirming climaxes like the one in It's a Wonderful Life, and, sure enough, a big cornball scene in the church has the villagers proudly standing up and announcing what miracles have indeed befallen them as a (not always) direct result of that hunk of wax.

Afflicted with the worst male hairdo since Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men, Matheson is unable to make you warm to the insufferably priggish Richmond, but Barks evinces some attractive spirit. TV singing sensation Susan Boyle pops up in a small role, warbles a bit, and is predictably homely and sweeter than sugar, in a bonnet.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Major Releases

As Above, So Below
Film Review: As Above, So Below

But not much in between. More »

Life of Crime review
Film Review: Life of Crime

Amateur kidnapping goes awry in a darkly comic adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel. More »

November Man
Film Review: The November Man

More than a decade after his 007 days, Pierce Brosnan is back in secret-agent mode, as a more down-to-earth but no less deadly ex-spy who gets forced back into the game. More »

When the Game Stands Tall
Film Review: When the Game Stands Tall

Enervated football drama plods along predictably. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Film Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Neither significantly better nor worse than its predecessor, the belated Sin City sequel is more of a repeat, rather than a continuation, of the original. More »

If I Stay
Film Review: If I Stay

Delivers as promised. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here