Dan Steven is Charles Dickens in The Man Who Invented Christmas. (Kerry Brown/Elevation Pictures image)

Reel Reviews: A Dickens’ of a tale

We say, “The Man Who Invented Christmas is the surprise movie of the year.”

Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) was a bit depressed at Christmas time in 1843. His last two books had not been well received and weren’t selling. His publishers had no more money for him and the bills were piling up. Out of desperation, Dickens’ asks them for an advance on a new book about Christmas, which he hasn’t yet started writing. Able to write and show them his sample chapter, about a ghost who comes back to haunt his miserable business partner, the publishers are not interested in a book about a silly holiday that hardly anyone celebrates.

Dickens borrows some more money from his lawyer and decides to publish the book himself. He writes and publishes A Christmas Carol in six weeks, in time for Christmas, with the help of his imaginary characters, most notably through conversations with Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer.)

We say, “The Man Who Invented Christmas is the surprise movie of the year.”

TAYLOR: I thought I was going to see a Christmas movie, but The Man Who Invented Christmas is about the writing of a book by a creative genius in London of old. I was relieved to discover that the film was more of a historical period piece than a commercial about a holiday. It is also immediately beautiful, well acted and perfect in every way. The story of the creation of A Christmas Carol is more about class, money, shame and love than it is about anything else. A lot of the story stems from Dicken’s relationship with his father (Jonathan Pryce) and the awful upbringing young Charlie endured on London’s mean streets.

HOWE: I too thought that The Man Who Invented Christmas was a fine move, not great, just fine. It wasn’t as much as the story that I enjoyed it was more of the cinematography, the lighting and the colours that were used that I thoroughly enjoyed. I felt director Bharat Nalluri captured the dirty, grubby feel of ol’ London town wonderfully. When Dickens was running through the alleyways, it felt you were chasing alongside him.

TAYLOR: The Man Who Invented Christmas has a classic movie feel. I think part of that comes from it being a period piece, but there’s no mistaking the value on screen, setting, lighting, everything. This is an extremely well-made film and Canadian to boot. I saw it in an empty theatre, typical. Audiences don’t even know this film exists. Well, go see it. It’s excellent.

HOWE: When I went on Monday night to watch this, the theatre was mostly old folk, which is a shame because something like this should be watched by younger children. At this time of year, the Christmas-themed movies are, well, pretty poor. This is well acted, easy to follow for the younger audiences and there is a bit of comedy to keep it light-hearted. So if you are thinking of a Christmas film, you have either this one or the brain-numbing, soul-sapping Daddy’s Home 2. I know which one I would pick.

Taylor gives The Man Who Invented Christmas 5 turkey dinners out of 5.

Howe gives it 3.5 maggot infested biscuits out of 5.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe review the latest films in Reel Reviews

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