A Boy Called Christmas ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
In this origin story of Father Christmas, an ordinary boy (with a loyal pet mouse and a reindeer at his side) sets out on an extraordinary adventure to find his father who is on a quest to discover the fabled village of Elfhelm. Available to watch on Sky.
The words “Sky Original” when it comes to feature films usually fill me with dread: you probably can’t even think of any of those titles (which probably proves my point, because they are so unremarkable that nobody even talks about them), but after having endured a few of those, I have learnt to expect the worst… the recent remake of The Secret Garden was one of them, and yes was abysmal.
So you can imagine my surprise when about half hour into this film I caught myself thinking “this is actually rather charming and very nicely made”. It’s certainly not going to win any award for originality, but as an undemanding Christmas family affair, you could do a lot worse.
The framing device though which the film plays out has Maggie Smith (scene stealer) telling a story to three disillusioned children about the invention of Christmas.
I adore this woman whatever she’s in and having had the honour of spending some time with her on several occasions I can confirm that she’s just as sharp and witty in real life… and surprising warm too.
The tale she tells takes place in the snowy North as and follows the adventures of a boy Called Nikolas (yes, that Nick, no surprise there) on a quest to find the village of Elfhelm, where he believes the elves live.
On a purely technical level one cannot fail to notice the inventive transitions from the modern-day London, as the story is being told, to the snowy landscapes, and vice versa.
In fact the sumptuous look of A Boy Called Christmas, very aware of being a fairy tale and filmed as such, is a step above not just the average Christmas junk we usually get fed around this season, but all those average mid-budget children flicks in general
It clearly tries to emulate the magic and mood of films like Harry Potter and Paddington (the visuals, the music, the cast) but it also does a good job in evoking that warmth we all seek from a Christmas movie, while at the same time avoiding being too sickly sugary by adding some darker and more melancholic elements to the story, in typical Grimm fashion.
A strong supporting cast tops it all up, with names like Toby Jones, Kristen Wiig (unfortunately underused), Jim Broadbent and Stephen Merchant providing the voice of a mouse.
And whilst I didn’t really buy into Sally Hawkins as the baddy – in fact her whole subplot is possibly the weakest link in the film – you’ve got to be a real Grinch, or Scrooge, whichever you prefer, not to warm up to this… and eventually I did. I loved the final twist too.
And for the record, both wife and son liked it even more than I did (so I guess it’s 4 stars for them).
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
A Boy Called Christmas is available to watch on Sky.
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