Complete A-Z list

Man Who Invented Christmas, The  (DVD)


Stars: Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Morfydd Clark, Iain MacNiece, Simon Callow, Marian Margolyes, Bill Paterson

Director: Bharat Nalluri

This might have made a decent framework for a children's TV special, but as a film it just doesn't work. We're never entirely comfortable with an approach that has to weld several different kinds of festive fare together.

The idea is that novelist Charles Dickens (Stevens, doing a fair job of overcoming uneasy casting), having had three 'flops' in a row, is relatively down on his uppers, lumbered with the arrival of his profligate and alcoholic father (Pryce) and a need of a hit book to swell his alarmingly vanishing coffers,

The film's ultra-simplistic scenario has the author imagining the characters of A Christmas Carol, principally, of course, Scrooge (Plummer) and gathering snippets of iconic dialogue, conveniently spoken by friends and associates, to put into their mouths, as he fights to deliver the book in time for Christmas.

Along the way, Dickens himself learns something about the spirit of the season.

Even as a fantasy, however, this never convinces, despite lip-smacking Dickensian production design and efficient performances (with one or two minor exceptions). Even the feelgood, sniffle-inducing ending is vitiated by an overlong speech from the now-triumphant author.

David Quinlan

Ireland/Canada 2017. UK Distributor: Thunderbird. Technicolor.
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 24 Nov 2018