The Man Who Invented Christmas Review
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It seems that no Christmas season is complete without at least one viewing of some version of Charles Dickens’s beloved holiday story, A Christmas Carol. And the lighthearted biopic The Man Who Invented Christmas explores how Dickens turned his struggling career around to create a timeless classic—while reviving a fading holiday in the process.

The Man Who Invented Christmas stars Dan Stevens as the famed author—who, in the fall of 1843, is struggling to come up with an idea for his next novel after his last three novels flopped. With another baby on the way, renovations continuing on his London home, and no royalties coming in, he’s desperately in need of a new hit. So, borrowing the stories and names and characters around him, he weaves a tale about a holiday that few people celebrate anymore, and he borrows the money to get it published in just a few weeks’ time.

The Man Who Invented Christmas takes a look behind the scenes of a well-known holiday classic, taking the facts surrounding the novel’s publication (as found in author Les Standiford’s book) and expanding them into a playful film about the author, his desperation, and his ever-growing cast of outspoken characters.

At its heart, it’s the portrait of a successful young man who’s desperate to hold on to the fame and fortune and respect that his career has given him. It’s also the story of a man who’s hiding the truth about his own troubled past. And in the process of writing, Dickens is forced to face his own demons—especially as it relates to his strained relationship with his father (played by Jonathan Pryce). Admittedly, though, some of these connections feel like a stretch—an attempt to tie the author to his story in an even more personal way.

When it isn’t exploring the author’s life outside his work, the film also offers an interesting perspective on the creative process. As Dickens scrambles to collect ideas and get them on paper, his study often fills with characters—people from the author’s own life who transform into characters and visit him as he works. They act out their stories and even suggest edits and additions. For the most part, their involvement is light and entertaining, but there are also a few memorable moments with Christopher Plummer’s Scrooge as Dickens works to develop—and understand—this character.

This isn’t the kind of deeply dramatic biopic that audiences have come to expect during award season. Though it has some serious moments, it’s surprisingly lighthearted—and sometimes maybe even a little bit silly. But that just makes for easy-going holiday viewing.

If some version of A Christmas Carol is a part of your annual holiday traditions, you’ll enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at a Christmas favorite. It isn’t destined to become a new holiday classic, but it’s still an entertaining look at an old one.

Listen to the review on Reel Discovery:

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