The Christmas Candle
By Michael LeaserA note from Mark Rodgers:As you may know, my former boss, Senator Rick Santorum, has launched a media venture called Echolight, focused on films for the faith community. Christmas Candle is their first theatrical release, and one that they should be proud of. As Michael Leaser points out in his review below, its production values are much higher than most films targeting the faith community. If you plan on seeing a Christmas-themed film this year, we urge you to go on opening weekend. Having overseen a number of campaigns over the years (political, Presidential and popculture) there is no better way to show your support than to "vote" with your feet and your wallet!Moviegoers looking for a Christmas film to take their families to this holiday season will find only one such theatrical offering this year, The Christmas Candle, based on the story by Max Lucado. Set in a quaint village in late Victorian England, the film exudes all the comfort and charm of a rich and frothy cup of hot cocoa enjoyed by the fireplace, stockings hanging from a mantle draped with verdant garland.Neither offensive nor particularly provocative, The Christmas Candle features the town of Gladbury, whose family of candlemakers has received a visit from an angel every 25 years. This angel blesses one of their candles, so that whoever then lights that candle and prays on it will receive a great blessing. Gladbury’s new minister David Richmond (Hans Matheson) believes the candle story is nothing but superstition and emphasizes instead the good works people can do for each other every day as a sign of God working His miracles through us. He finds an ally in one of the few local candle skeptics, Emily Barstow (Samantha Barks), but most of the townspeople treat his dismissal of the candle as practically sacrilegious. As the time for the angel’s visit draws nigh, Richmond’s position is about to be tested, just as he is testing the town’s capacity to act out their faith in their community.Matheson and Barks do an admirable job with the material, which does not demand too much from them. (Les Misérables fans may find it more than a bit ironic that this film pairs the actress who played Eponine from last year’s theatrical adaptation of the musical with the actor who played Marius in the 1998 film version.) Veteran character actor James Cosmo stands out in a strong supporting role as caretaker of the local church, and Susan Boyle makes her dramatic debut as his wife, obviously cast more for her exceptional singing voice than her acting chops.While certainly not the strongest entry in the Christmas film canon, The Christmas Candle still offers plenty of material for thoughtful reflection of how we should act out our Christian walk, particularly during those quiet moments next to the fireplace and Christmas tree, hot cocoa in hand.
"Editor's correction: There is actually one other Christmas-themed movie being released this holiday season: Black Nativity."