Written by Steve Turner, and directed by David Lumsden (who also helmed a TV movie titles Meet You In Scotland this year), this is a by the numbers Christmas TV movie that works relatively well thanks to the leads. There are problems elsewhere in the cast, but I'll get to them later.
Jill Winternitz plays Emma McKenzie, a talented installation designer who travels with her father (Mike, played by Toby Rolt) from America to a small village in Scotland for a pleasant Christmas vacation. Of course, her busy boyfriend, Brad (Adam Bond), cannot make it along. Which makes things easier for Emma to start enjoying the company of Alex Glenrothie (Dominic Watters) as the two of them end up working together to dress up the village for Christmas, something that the local laird, Duncan Glenrothie (Lewis Howden), has not allowed for a number of years. Can Emma win him over, or will he remain convinced that people have lost their perception of the true meaning of Christmas? And will Emma and Alex get closer, or is a Brad-shaped obstacle guaranteed to keep everything chaste and full of quiet regret?
In line with many other holiday movie viewing choices, with the main twist on the material being the Scotland setting, Christmas In Scotland is a perfectly fine example of this kind of thing. You have a female lead who needs to learn all about the value of small town life, especially when the promise of romance is also in the air, you have a grumpy “grinch” to be won over, and almost every main supporting character welcomes our leads with open arms. There are traditions explained, minor complications that create speed bumps on the road to happiness, and a small child (Caoimhe Fisher) onscreen to be overly sweet and ready to help people find their Christmas joy.
Winternitz and Watters are pretty good in their main roles, and their blossoming connection is believable enough in the arena of the innocent and chaste blossoming romances we always get in these movies. Howden also does a decent job of being the seemingly hard-hearted individual needing to be won over by the festive celebrations. Bond does well enough in portraying his Brad as someone who seems like a typical Brad, and he does a pretty good job as a British actor faking an American accent. The same cannot be said of Rolt, who spends most of his time onscreen horribly overacting while speaking dialogue that have him trying out at least five different accents in each sentence. Jane MacFarlane and Caroline Deyga offer some decent extra support, and there are obviously characters named Morag and Hamish to help ensure that “authentic” Scottish atmosphere throughout.
Pleasant and harmless, unless you account the damage inflicted on the accents tried out by Rolt, Christmas In Scotland is a nice blend of Christmas decor and tartan ribbons. If I can enjoy it, despite bristling at the thought of seeing my fellow Scots selling the stereotypical tourist version of Scottish life (which they do, but not as badly as I have seen in some other TV movies), then I think others will also view it favourably.
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