The Man Who Invented Christmas - This Movie Rocks The Yule Time Anew
Dir: Bharat Nalluri
Starring Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Ian McNeice, Simon Callow, Miriam Margoyles, Miles Jupp, Morfydd Clark, Justin Edwards
Now here’s something we didn’t expect – a good new Christmas movie. Possibly even a perennial. And trust us, in a season that has already given us some very Bad Moms and double duty of Daddys at Home, this is more than a pleasant surprise – it’s desperately needed.
Dan Stevens is Charles Dickens – maybe not as you know him, but as a young, vibrant literary star about town. (It may take a few minutes to get used to him as such, but stick with him – he’s good company.) Dickens is at the height of his fame, but facing up to something of a dearth in sales and therefore in need of inspiration and money both. With six weeks to go, Dickens determines to write a Christmas story (although the season itself seems curiously out of fashion in his day.) As he moves around his native London, he begins to spy odd moments, memorable characters, hear certain lines that stay with him, all the while dealing with the arrival of his irresponsible father (a splendid as always Pryce) and memories of his own impoverished childhood, coming back to haunt him like a ghost of Christmas past.
As he hides himself away at home to write, all these elements slowly start to coalesce into what may well be his new work, as, in an almost seasonal fever dream kind of way, the characters of A Christmas Carol seep out of his imagination and come to life around him, none more so than Plummer as his “hero” Ebenezer Scrooge.
Susan Coyne’s script (adapted from the book by Les Standiford) plays around with the notion and nature of creation, determined to have great fun mixing the tale we know so well with the fanciful details of its creation. As ever Nalluri proves himself an accomplished director, but is clearly pushing himself here, bringing this tale about the tale to a life all its own, one that honours its source but thoroughly enjoys darting all around it. It’s not panto, but it has the feel of a brimming Christmas play, undercut with a strong cinematic style. In a film full of entertaining performances, Plummer completely dominates, delivering one of the finest screen Scrooges ever. And yes, that’s saying a lot.
The Man Who Invented Christmas does not reinvent the Christmas movie, but it certainly deserves a place amongst those that we all come back to year after year. See it this season – and be prepared to be re-watching it for many years to come.
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