November 29, 2017

The Man Who Invented Christmas Review

We should buy this book by Pete McCommons.

Contrary to many a pithy church marquee, Charles Dickens is apparently the reason for the season, according to the new period biopic based on the book by Les Standiford. 

In the time of the legendary British author of Oliver Twist, Christmas was seen by most as simply an excuse for a day off for the devout. After he released his classic novel A Christmas Carol, the holiday blew up as a season for family and giving, but releasing Ebenezer Scrooge (the excellent Christopher Plummer) from the page was a trying process for an author struggling with a case of writer’s block. Dan Stevens makes a swell, if inscrutable, Dickens. He is sometimes manic, sometimes mean and constantly troubled by memories of his father (Jonathan Pryce), whose financial woes left a meaningful mark on the young lad. 

While smartly eschewing an umpteenth straightforward rehashing of A Christmas Carol, this unnecessarily dull movie should be dripping in Dickensian Christmas spirit, yet can only gather enough for its final scene. Thankfully, Stevens is a real charmer, and Plummer gifts us a Scrooge so good that it is hard to believe he has never played the iconic miser before.