Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: The Christmas Candle (2013)

Woo! I'm finally back to reviewing! I'm sorry for this (many) months hiatus. Hopefully now, I'll be back to doing reviews more consistently. I have plenty of period dramas that I want to watch, so this will hopefully be the first in a long line of new reviews.

But anyways. I've heard a lot about The Christmas Candle lately, it being the Christmas season and all. I had heard that people seeing the movie (not the critics, however) liked the movie, that the costumes were good, and that it was an overall good, Christian movie. My parents and I went to see it in a theater that was playing it (which which had to do a little bit of driving to since it was only released in selected theaters) and we all watched it together one Sunday afternoon, which happened to be the first day of Advent.

Promotional Picure
When Gladbury's minister dies, Lady Camdon of Gladbury invites and persuades a young minister, David Richmond, to fill the position. Upon arriving in Gladbury, David learns of the Christmas Candle story: every twenty-five years, an angel blesses one candle (The Christmas Candle) which is given to one person who is granted a miracle. When David arrives and tries to modernize the town of Gladbury and disprove the story of the Christmas Candle, much to the chagrin of the townspeople, the Christmas Candle goes missing.

I was expecting more familiar faces in this period drama, but there were a couple of familiar period drama faces in The Christmas Candle.

Actor/ActressCharacterAlso Seen In
Hans MathesonDavid RichmondLes Miserables (1998) as Marius
Samantha BarksEmily BarstowLes Miserables (2011) as Eponine
Lesley ManvilleBea HaddingtonCranford (2007) as Mrs. Rose
Sylvester McCoyEdward HaddingtonDoctor Who as the Seventh Doctor
Barbara FlynnLady CamdonCranford (2007) as Mrs. Jamieson, He Knew He Was Right as Mrs. French, various period dramas

The Christmas Candle also features the acting debut of Susan Boyle who became famous after her performance on Britain's Got Talent. She played Eleanor Hopewell, the wife of the church's caretaker.

While watching The Christmas Candle, I felt like the characters and overall feeling were very similar to Cranford (and not just because two actresses from Cranford were in this movie). The movie had an overall warm feeling to it, but it was not without serious moments (like Cranford). The characters in the story had their problems (like all of us do), but they were a hopeful set of characters who could find joy in their lives.

David Richmond played by Hans Matheson
I'm still not quite sure what to make of David Richmond. His heart was in the right place (he started out helping the Salvation Army and when he came to Gladbury, he wanted to help the people make their miracles), but at the same time, he wanted to force Gladbury to modernize. It was a shock to everyone and it certainly didn't help him. Spoiler I did feel bad for him when he said that his wife and daughter died of consumption, which was why he didn't want to help Mr. Barstow right away when he had consumption. End of Spoiler. I suppose you grow a little attached to his character, but he isn't a favorite character of mine.

Emily Barstow played by Samantha Barks
Emily Barstow I wasn't sure that I was going to like. She was spunky and an interesting character, but I thought she was a little annoying at times. She fell away from the church and was touting how she believes in "common sense" and how she doesn't believe in miracles. Luckily, she does soften as the story goes on Spoiler and even comes back to the church End of Spoiler. I think I liked her young cousin, Charlie, better. Charlie loves scripture and wanted to become a minister, but he has been unable to talk since his parents died. David tries to help him loosen his tongue with mouth exercises to get him to speak Spoiler but it isn't until the end of the movie that Charlie does speak End of Spoiler.
Edward Haddington making candles and Bea Haddington
behind him looking on.

Edward and Bea Haddington run the candle shop that the angel visits to bless the Christmas Candle. At times they were a bit scheming (at one point or another, one of them suggests that they keep the Christmas Candle for themselves to bring their son back to the family), but they were still a likable couple. It is early in the story that they lose the Christmas Candle by accident and decide to give everyone in the town a candle and tell them to light it and pray (they didn't say that it was the Christmas Candle, but they lead everyone to believe they had it). But still, they were a likable, sympathetic couple. Spoiler My favorite part with them was at the end of the story when they find out that they have a grandson by a girl, Ruth, who was abandoned by their son. They decide to care for both Ruth and her child, who she names after her father, Edward (which also happens to be the name of Mr. Haddington)! End of Spoiler

Barbara Flynn as Lady Camdon
It's simply not a period drama without Barbara Flynn! (Okay, yes there are period dramas without Barbara Flynn in them, but just humor me a little). Barbara Flynn played Lady Camdon, who convinces David to come to Gladbury. Unlike Barbara Flynn's usual roles, which feature snooty ladies, Lady Camdon is kind and caring. When David has major doubts throughout the storyline, he goes to Lady Camdon who gives him some advice. Barbara Flynn did a very good job of acting in The Christmas Candle and I'm happy to see her in a new period drama.
Another period drama with excellent scenery! Though the story takes place in the winter time, there were still plenty of lovely scenes around. Unlike a lot of stories that take place in the winter, there were plenty of scenes were there was not snow on the ground, despite the story taking place in Advent. I think that it made it more realistic: I don't know about where all of you live, but where I am, sometimes the Christmas season comes and there is no snow on the ground for quite some time. Don't worry, the snow does come eventually, but not for awhile.

One of the things that people love about this movie is the costumes, and I would have to agree. The costumes in here were very lovely! There was a good mixture of middle class/upper class attire and lower class attire, so there is a wide range of costumes in this film. Though the movie takes place in 1890, the fashions were very late 1880s; this is probably due to the fact that Gladbury is a country town, so the latest fashions from London (mutton sleeves, no bustle, shirtwaists, etc.) probably didn't make it to the country until later. From what I understand, the person who did the costuming for Lark Rise to Candleford did the costuming for this movie -- you can tell that both sets of costumes were similar.

Susan Boyle as Eleanor Hopewell. Mr and Mrs. Hopewell
are caretakers of the church.
The highlight of the music is Susan Boyle's singing. She did a wonderful job singing. But aside from Susan Boyle, the movie did have some nice music. While there were some Christmas carols, there weren't that many of them; in fact, the songs that Susan Boyle did sing were not Christmas carols, but (I think) were new songs. To the disappointment of some fans of Les Miserables, Samantha Barks does not have any singing numbers.

Overall: 3.5/5
I thought it was a good movie and I'm not sorry that I watched it, but I probably won't be seeing it again in the near future. It was a sweet movie and is great around Christmas time, but it's just not one of those movies that you see over and over again. Still, I don't understand why critics dislike the movie so much; sure, it wasn't the best movie ever, but it was a decent movie. Maybe it's because this movie is an actual family friendly movie which is boring to them. But I'm just speculating here. The acting was good, the storyline was sweet, the costuming great. This is a worthy period drama.

The film is rated PG for mild thematic events. I would consider this to be a family friendly movie. There might be a couple of scenes that might be considered frightening. There is a light fixture malfunction that causes a fire in the church. One person dies. Another person has consumption and is very sick Spoiler (don't worry, he doesn't die, but makes a full recovery. Not sure how accurate that is, but hey.) End of Spoiler. A character has a child out of wedlock and the father abandoned them (Spoiler However the paternal grandparents compassionately take both mother and child in End of Spoiler).

The Christmas Candle is playing in selected theaters now. It runs for 100 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed the movie as well! It's a great movie to watch as a family. Oh, and Lesley Manville plays in North & South as well :)


Thank you for visiting Elegance of Fashion. If you wish to leave a comment, please do. I ask that you refrain from bad language and are polite and constructive. If you are posing under "Anonymous", if you could leave a name, that would be great! I reserve the right to delete any comments that I deem family unfriendly.

Thank you very much and please come again.