Seasonally Balanced: Our Review of ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - November 24, 2017
Seasonally Balanced: Our Review of ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

It’s not often we get to see a glimpse behind the scenes of one of the most iconic stories of all time…

In using the narrative non-fiction form (or fact based storytelling to put it more simply) The Man Who Invented Christmas got just enough creative leeway to make itself into a light and charming yarn that allowed this story of Charles Dickens who was on the brink of ruin find the inspiration that lead him to the iconic pages of A Christmas Carol.

The Man Who Invented Christmas tells of the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), Tiny Tim and other classic characters from A Christmas Carol, as Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) mixes real life inspirations with his vivid imagination to conjure up unforgettable characters and a timeless tale, forever changing the holiday season into the celebration we know today.

In an ultimately smart and savvy bit of filmmaking, The Man Who Invented Christmas works because it plays out like a fable that is being read to its audience rather than a cold piece of history that is deftly anchored by Dan Stevens in a fun and surprisingly fun turn as Dickens who really did play a key role in bringing Christmas back to life.

Director Bharat Nalluri is a gifted hand at telling a story and manages to work within the natural confines that period pieces can put up but also one’s with the comedic tinge that this material has as well.  The visuals and narrative flow never for one second betray the fact that this basically a real life story, with the wisdom factor ramped up to 11.  The screenplay by Susan Coyne which was adapted from the book of the same name by Les Standiford never gets bogged down or hung up on any plot points a little too much and successfully keeps the energy high throughout the picture, not only in the real world consequences that could be facing Dickens but in also in capturing the genuine sense of wonder that the holiday season brings to us all.  It straddles the line between the real world while still keeping the hope and the whimsy of the story always at the forefront, and star Dan Stevens was a big part of that.

Never playing it too seriously or too maudlin at any given time, Stevens really does execute a masterful performance this time out as he makes Dickens a loveable, irascible and occasionally even dislikeable character.  All these elements come out on the page in A Christmas Carol and it plays so perfectly inside the narrative.  Christopher Plummer was a wise choice for his embodiment of Scrooge as we see both the nasty and the kind in him, but sadly after these two wonderful performances the rest of the movie is just a touch under written as Jonathan Pryce, Simon Callow, Justin Edwards, Bill Paterson and many others just don’t have all that much to do.

Ultimately, The Man Who Invented Christmas is a nice little lark of a film that will do just enough to put you in the Christmas spirit without hammering audiences over head with the fact.  It’s all of the good and the light without the grief of the holiday season making for a little capsule of joy that we can all use this time of year.

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David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.