Sunday 14 December 2014

Christmas Angel (2009)

Kari Hawker plays Ashley Matthews, a young woman who doesn't seem to have too many decent prospects on her horizon while others are preparing to enjoy Christmas. But not everyone will be having a good time. In fact, some people will be doing even worse than Ashley, even if she doesn't want to think about them. It turns out that her older neighbour, Nick (Bruce Davison), does enough thinking about the less fortunate for the both of them. He's a rich man who likes to do good deeds, and he needs a helper. As Ashley processes this new information, and starts to help Nick, she also meets Will (K. C. Clyde). Will seems like a nice guy, despite the fact that he's also a journalist who may sense a great story involving Ashley and Nick.

Christmas Angel is, like so many other movies now jostling for position in the viewing schedules at this time of year, a perfectly fine slice of snow-covered schmaltz. It's pretty harmless, and also pretty hard to praise or criticise to any great degree. I liked it, in the sense that I didn't really dislike it. The fact that this tends to be my default position with any movie, a starting point that I assume any movie will either improve upon or make a bit (sometimes a lot) worse.

Hawker, Davison and Clyde all do well enough in their roles, and none of the supporting cast cause any major problems. The potential relationship between Hawker and Clyde is given the expected unsteady beginning, with the former giving the latter a hard time because . . . . . that just seems to be the way she is, but the way the characters develop throughout the movie is quite nicely handled.

Brittany Wiscombe and Scott Champion are responsible for the screenplay, and therefore responsible for that character development. They do a good job, ladling on the Christmas sugar while attempting to offset the overwhelming sweetness with little moments of acidity. They don't quite do enough, there's just no way I can say that this isn't a bit of a schmaltz-fest, but they manage to make it better than it could have been. If this had featured an Ashley Matthews who was a bit younger, and quicker to believe in Christmas "miracles", then it would have been a real slog.

Director Brian Brough doesn't really have to do much, or so it seems. The camera keeps everyone in the frame, there are many reminders that everything is taking place at Christmas, and everything is laid out simply and efficiently enough, from A to B to C.

Yet another in a long line of seasonal movies that you'll forget about as soon as the big day has come and gone, Christmas Angel is sweet and earnest and eminently disposable. I tend to repeat myself when it comes to reviewing these movies, which is something I worried about until I remembered that most of these films repeat themselves anyway.


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