It’s the holiday season!! And after a September and October filled with ghosts and other scary things, I am so ready for heartwarming, hopeful, and cozy.- although this was a bit of a ghost story too.. Lucky for me, our first movie of the season checked all of those boxes!
Where should I begin? Last night was my very first viewing of this movie, although I had heard about it. My good friend Jill is a mega Dan Stevens fan and so his work is always on my radar through her. It also is exactly the type of movie I am drawn to, so it was weird that I didn’t see it when it first came out. However, maybe then it wouldn’t have held the same magic for us as it did last night. Because last night, Billy and I were enchanted. It’s been a rough few weeks around here, and this week Billy has worked late every night, which means long days for me as well. When we flopped into bed to watch this, we were both feeling a little worn out and worn down. The world has been too much with us, you know what I mean?
We settled in, and were totally wowed. We were reminded of the magic and love and hope in the world. That people can be kind, that we need to let the spirit of Christmas and generosity and peace be with us all year.
Dan Stevens plays Charles Dickens, who quite frankly I didn’t know much about other than being familiar with his work. The movie begins with Dickens in a bit of a financial pickle, after having written three unsuccessful books in a row (which was unbelievable to me too). He is up to his eyeballs in debt, with his large new home, his growing family, and in addition he supports his father and mother. He’s a bit stressed to say the least, and tries very hard to not let the stress change who he is at heart. But who is he?
We learn through flashbacks that his father went to debtors prison and he himself went to work long, 12 hour days at a shoeshine factory as a young boy of 11. This has long hung over him, and over his opinion of himself, his work, and his relationship with his father.
All of this is going on in the background of his life as he writes his new book, about what some characters in the movie referred to a minor holiday – Christmas. And oh, the scenes of him writing the book is so clever and brilliant. The characters bounding to life, hounding him, haunting him, taunting him, leading him as he writes their stories. At times he is frustrated with them as they won’t do what he wants, and Stevens portrayal of Dickens in his frustration and desperation made me feel frustrated as well, it was so well acted. The movie is so clever, as I said. The characters are with him, there but not there, real to him in his mind at all times as he goes about his days and nights. His wife accuses him of caring more about his characters than his flesh and blood family, and the viewer has to wonder a little bit how much truth is in that statement. We see a wild, whimsical, sometimes reckless Dickens struggle with the part of him that has a bit of darkness, the demons from childhood that hover around him like ghosts, the parts that make up bits and pieces of Scrooge. Stevens is able to convey all of these emotions and I believe that this was his best role ever. I would give him an Oscar for it even.
It’s a race against time for Dickens – will he finish the book by the deadline? Will it get printed? Can he overcome his demons to write a masterpiece? Will his family be ok? And will Tiny Tim live??
This movie was fantastic. Billy and I just looked at each other when it was over, me wiping tears from my eyes at the beauty and love of it all. I had goosebumps. It is an absolutely wonderful movie, and if you have not seen it yet, I 100% recommend it for your holiday movie watching this season.
For Lisa’s rundown, click here!