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"The Christmas Candle"
"The Christmas Candle" Movie Review: 2 Stars
by Roger Moore
If lush settings were plums and costumes were nuts, we'd all have fruitcake for Christmas.
And we could enjoy it watching the good-looking but dramatically flat and emotionally sterile "The Christmas Candle," a pretty period piece of a holiday fable that lacks only the wit, decent story and better dialogue that might have made it a classic.
Filmed in Gloucestershire, England, it's the tale of a village -- Gladbury -- that has held onto a tradition that says every 25 years, the local candle-maker produces one batch that holds a magical candle, ensuring that an angel will grant the owner his or her heart's desire.
In a poor town where "the people are disheartened," that's a nice thing to cling to -- a little hope that being given this candle and told to "light this and pray," grandpa's blindness will be cured, that missing goat or prodigal son will return by the end of Advent.
But that 200-year-old tradition is pooh-poohed by the new preacher, handsome Rev. David Richmond, played by Hans Matheson, wearing the same haircut he sported on TV's "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" and "The Tudors."
It's 1890, and England is going electric. There's no "magical, wish-granting angel," he preaches. And the locals are appalled.
The Rev. Richmond was recruited from the
"Be the miracle," he advises his flock. Fix that roof, visit that lonely old lady. And so they do.
But the reverend is harboring his own secret sadness. And there's a fellow skeptic, the lovely Emily Barstow (Samantha Barks of "Les Miserables"), who might be lured back to church by his good deeds. Can he help her sickly dad (John Hannah of "Four Weddings and a Funeral")? Or Charlie, the little boy who cannot speak?
Even the caretakers of the church parsonage, played by James Cosmo and Susan Boyle -- yes, that Susan Boyle, of "Britain's Got Talent" and viral video fame -- could use a miracle.
The performances -- save for Boyle, a better singer than actress -- are uniformly fine, if limited.
But there's not a whit of mystery to the proceedings, and even moments with the potential for great charm manage only the tiniest drop of it.
Director John Stephenson comes from the animation and special-effects realm, so the angel effect and miracle candle effects are well conceived. And the entire production is burnished to the point of handsome.
He had the makings here of a "Masterpiece Theatre" Christmas production.
But neither he nor the screenwriters are able to turn Max Lucado's novel into anything more than pablum -- best served to babies and the undiscriminating. No fruitcake for us this Christmas.
From bestselling author, Max Lucado, comes The Christmas Candle, a timeless holiday film for the entire family. Deep in the heart of the English countryside lies the enchanting village of Gladbury. Legend has it every 25 years an angel visits the village candlemaker and touches a single candle. Whoever lights this candle receives a miracle on Christmas Eve. But in 1890, at the dawn of the electric age, this centuries old legend may come to an end
MPAA rating: PG (for mild thematic elements)
Running time: 1:40
Starring Hans Matheson (Clash of the Titans, Sherlock Holmes), Samantha Barks (Les Miserables), Lesley Manville (Disney's A Christmas Carol), and Sylvester McCoy (The Hobbit Trilogy, Doctor Who). Also starring John Hannah (The Mummy, Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Barbara Flynn (Miss Potter) with James Cosmo (Game of Thrones, Braveheart). And introducing singing phenomenon, Susan Boyle, in her feature film debut
Article: Copyright © Tribune Media Services, Inc.
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