Film:The Christmas Candle
Directed by: John Stephenson
Starring: Hans Matheson, Samantha Barks, Lesley Manville, Sylvestor McCoy, James Cosmo, Barbara Flynn, John Hannah, and Susan Boyle.
Genre/Style: Christmas; Period Drama
The Christmas Candle Review
Unfairly critiqued for doing exactly what the film aimed to do, The Christmas Candle is an uplifting Christmas movie that actually celebrates the true meaning of Christmas: the gift and love of Christ. The story, told in a fairy tale like way, follows the enchanting small English village called Gladbury. In Gladbury, it is said that every 25 years an angel blesses a candle, a candle that would give one person in town a miracle from God. Still devoted to this Christmas miracle 200 years later (when the world has begun to modernize), a new more modern Reverend arrives in Gladbury to teach them another way than just the Christmas candle: charity for their neighbors and good deeds.
When David Richmond, the Reverend, discovers the Christmas Candle phenomenon, he scorns it because he no longer believes in miracles. As a man who lost his wife and child (and hope), he just may need a miracle of his own…While some may scoff at the compilation of problems in the town (so many people need a miracle) including a blind man, a boy who can’t speak, a woman looking for a husband, the loss of faith, and many more, they may be missing the point: that the town of Gladbury is meant to be a parable. If you don’t want a moral lesson about kindness and hope, than The Christmas Candle just won’t be for you. However, for those seeking an enjoyable Christmas movie that doesn’t dance around Christ, The Christmas Candle is a wonderful choice to watch over the holidays, especially for those of us who love a good romantic period drama.
As someone who loves BBC Period Dramas, The Christmas Candle similarly excels in bringing another time period to life with excellent costumes, production design, cinematography, and acting. With actors many of us period drama enthusiasts will recognize, the film has quite the good cast… certainly better than almost any TV Christmas movie we find nowadays. From Hans Matheson (Tess and Les Miserables ), Samantha Barks (Les Miserables ), Lesley Manville (Cranford), Sylvestor McCoy (Doctor Who; The Hobbit), Barbara Flynn (Cranford; He Knew He Was Right), to John Hannah (The Mummy), the cast sells the magical little town of Gladbury with heart.
While not every single character is fleshed out, they feel real because the actors are in top form. When the script goes a little cheesy (as many Christmas movies do) it doesn’t feel over the top at all because of the performances and delivery of lines. Even Susan Boyle is believable in her role. And yes, she does some beautiful, angelic singing…
Aside from the characters, the romance between Reverend David Richmond (the man who has lost hope) and Emily Barstow (the young woman who doesn’t believe in God) is a fun treat. In a small, humorous way, it’s like seeing Eponine and Marius finally get together (the two actors playing these roles in two different adaptations of Les Miserables). Sure, there could have been a “little” more development of the love story, but I liked the wholesomeness to their relationship and enjoyed their old-fashioned romance as a whole.
While not a perfect film, The Christmas Candle is a wonderful choice to watch with your family this Christmas. It will make you believe in the goodness of humanity and uplift your spirits. In the midst of so much darker material out there, the film is truly a nice break from the world, a movie that reminds us there is no more important thing at Christmas than helping others.
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
Photo Credits: EchoLight Studios
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