I wish I could make fun of this Christmas movie. I really want to. I love mocking bad Christmas movies. But this one stole my heart.
Apparently it is based on a novel by Lisa Kleypas. Almost IMMEDIATELY you recognize the beautiful harbour town as Nova Scotia and the plot and the characters stole my heart.
Seriously. I was sitting by my tree last night sniffling my way through this thing. Mark has guardianship of his little niece Holly since his sister died unexpectedly in a car crash. Mark has no experience with children; but loves Holly so much he devotes his time and welfare to her well-being. He reads her bedtime stories and EVEN DOES ALL THE VOICES ( this guy will steal your heart).
Holly is not doing well at school still obviously traumatized by the passing of her mother. To add to this, she has ceased any form of verbal communication. Mark does his best to coax a voice out of her; to no avail.
Deciding it would be better for them both to start fresh, they return to the Island of Mark’s childhood and Friday Harbour: a gorgeous seaport filled with boats and quaint little shops where Mark works at a coffee emporium. There, they meet a charming entrepreneur, Maggie, who is opening her own children’s shop. They also move in with Mark’s two brother who are renovating a beautiful water-side property. Nova Scotia Tourism, as always , should be at an all-time high.
Holly is still uncommunicative (especially around Mark’s useless girlfriend Sybil or is it Shelby? can't remember! but, Seriously, have you ever ‘met’ a NICE woman named Sybil in a television production---other than Lady S. of Downton?) but warms to Maggie and her sweet basset hound, Olive.
Mark, so tethered to his project of raising Holly as per his sister’s wish and so determined that she have the type of life that rekindles his childhood memories, force him to work hard with his brothers to paint her room a glowing pink, fill her space with toys and even attempt a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. Succeed or fail, with Mark, it is always the genuine effort that he exerts that will win your heart---as it begins to win Maggie’s.
There are the usual clichéd constructs of romantic fiction here: the wrong-for-him girlfriend comes back and fails to comprehend his bond with his niece, there is a misunderstanding between Mark and Maggie when they finally go out together, etc.,; but it is SUCH a sweet movie because it is so finely tuned into the magic of family.
There are a few particular scenes that had me bawling with cuteness and I dare you to sit through them without a resounding “awwwwwww!”: they start, as mentioned, when Mark reads Holly a bedtime story, continue when, during her first night in her new bedroom at the Harbour, she sneaks out so that Mark awakes to find her nestled at the edge of his sleeping bag; at one point (marking her first actual communication with her uncles) she scripts a grocery list with charmingly misspelled words which she plants on the fridge door; when she finally decides to speak--- naming an imaginative fairy at the children’s store after her deceased Mother---one of the first things she does is to tell her Uncle Mark that she loves him. I wanted to DIE OF CUTENESS.
This is so sweet. So terribly predictable and yet so sweet. The acting was great for a film of its caliber, the chemistry between the two leads and between Mark and his brothers and all three boys and Holly were fun to watch.
I actually thought this was just the sweetest thing in the world.
Last year, I watched a film around the same time of yearthat prompted me to employ the use of this Youtube video to quantify the cuteness factor. Here, I elicit it again: