Alice Oscura, Featured Writer
Editor’s Note: The countdown to Christmas continues and Alice Claus checks out four more Hallmark Christmas movies.
Christmas in Vienna
Plot: Accomplished violinist Jess Waters (Sarah Drew) goes to Vienna to spend the Christmas holidays whilst having been invited to play at the well-renowned Christmas Eve concert at the prestigious Vienna Music Hall. Jess reconnects with a friend from college who currently works as a nanny for Mark Olson (Brennan Elliott). Mark is a widowed diplomat with three children who have a deep connection with Vienna. Jess confesses to her friend that she has lost her passion for music and plans to leave it behind. However, Jess finds that after meeting Mark and his beautiful children her inner spark seems to be reignited.
Review: Having been filmed in Vienna, a city known for its love of art, music and culture, and set against the backdrop of European winter the movie has the perfect atmosphere for a magical romance. While the cast and characters are all likable, I thought that the chemistry between the leads wasn’t as passionate as it should be. The pacing and development were a bit slow, but the scenes where you got to actually sight see with Jess and the kids were extremely rewarding. I get the feeling that Christmas might be even more spectacular if you get to spend it in a country that has managed to hold on to their history and heritage so efficiently, even after the horrific events that occurred during WWII.
Not a bad film but just missed the mark on giving the audience that extra umph in the romantic chemistry department to tie into the romantic holiday setting.
Alice Claus’s Score: 5.5 out of 10
A Timeless Christmas
Plot: Megan Turner (Erin Cahill) is a tour guide at a beautiful historic mansion. She adores the past and tells visitors of the story of the original owner of the mansion, Charles Whitley (Ryan Peevey), his rise from poverty to wealth, and his mysterious disappearance without a trace. Whitley is an inventor and businessman who is obsessed with the future. But when he repairs a mysterious clock, he finds himself transported to the future where his beautiful mansion is overrun by strangers. He is determined to find a way back home but when he learns about what happened after his disappearance and begins to have feelings for Megan, he starts to wonder if there is really any place left for him in the past.
Review: Paevey and Cahill are Hallmark staples who fans will certainly recognise. However, this is their first project that they have worked on together. This one involves some time travelling from 1903 to 2020 and what it takes to enjoy the Christmas holidays via 2020 experience (sans pandemic). Paevey’s well-mannered Charles makes his character even more attractive to the audience, especially when it comes to learning of the many discoveries of the modern world that we take for granted.
The chemistry between the two leads was off the charts and when their hearts broke, you felt your heart breaking as well. In true Hallmark fashion the decorations are to die for and the atmosphere creates a great form of escape. The story is touching and with the perfect cast this Hallmark entry hits you right in the feels for the holiday season.
Alice Claus’s Score: 6.5 out of 10
Meet Me at Christmas
Plot: Joan (Catherine Bell) is an experienced florist who is getting ready for her son to be married on Christmas Eve. However, when the wedding planner suddenly quits, it’s left up to the bride, the groom, the bride’s mysterious Uncle Beau (Mark Bellamy) and herself to wrap up the loose ends and finish planning the Winter Wonderland-themed wedding. Joan is a widow and her soon to be daughter-in-law’s Uncle Beau is a professional photographer who has a cynical view of Christmas. They soon discover that their paths had crossed before at the same location and that maybe fate is giving them a much needed second chance at happiness.
Review: The movie was filmed in Calgary in Alberta, Canada in September 2020 once the COVID-19 restrictions of the summer had been lifted, but the cast and crew still took all the necessary health precautions while filming. Catherine Bell is no stranger to audiences from her successful Hallmark series The Good Witch which currently has six seasons and was renewed for a seventh season back in July 2020. The actress has always had that natural charm about her that has always exuded through her characters, and the sweetness of a fairy that comes along to make everything right. Here she plays the role of Joan who is a widow and sometimes withdraws into herself through her memories. And while she may seem sad, she still enjoys what she does and gives it her all. The handsome Mark Bellamy’s character Beau cannot resist the charms of Joan for long and falls hard for her. The character’s story also starts off melancholic but has a light at the end of the tunnel which is all anyone could ask for.
I was captivated with the wedding planning scenes and decorations because ever since I was a little girl I have been dreaming of my future wedding. I always fantasised of having a Christmas-themed wedding because it’s my favourite time of the year. Even though I am married but never got the wedding of my dreams a gal can still dream…right?
Returning to Meet Me at Christmas, unrequited love and a cruel twist of fate are only a momentary separation for these two and the chemistry is a nice gradual build.
Alice Claus’s Score: 7 out of 10
The Christmas Doctor
Plot: Dr. Zoey Garner (Holly Robinson Peete) is a travelling doctor who prefers short assignments so that she can avoid staying put and forming attachments. She is assigned to the small town of Willow Brook for the holidays while their current physician undergoes a minor surgery. Zoey is charmed by Luke (Adrian Holmes) and the town. And as the holidays draw near she is surprised to find she doesn’t want her assignment to end.
Peete’s portrayal as a doctor who genuinely cares for her patients is super believable. In flashbacks she is shown as having some experience as a military doctor who forms a friendship with a young private. She keeps his memory with her forever and you can see it is the reason for her not wanting to settle down and form any emotional attachments. The character is so charming and relatable that the town of Willow Brook literally falls in love with their temporary doctor. The story is super emotional, and the dialogue is also extremely cheesy sometimes but that’s all in the territory of a Hallmark movie. The chemistry between the leads is excellent and natural, almost as if they are old friends. And the holiday atmosphere of friendship and love emanates throughout the entire film.
There’s a touching reveal that is going to have you in tears as it tugs on the heartstrings and it shows you that even the smallest of kind acts can have the largest impact on someone and their family, and how important it is just to know that you were there for their loved one. You never want to think about someone that you love having to go through pain alone and it helps to know that someone took their time out from their busy day to at least hold their hand and tell them that it’s going to be alright.
This one is an emotional ride but truly encapsulates the spirit of Christmas and what it’s really all about.
Alice Claus’s Score: 7.5 out of 10
For part 1 of Hallmark Christmas presents you can click here.
Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump.
I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. You can find me as Dark Alice Reviews on Facebook, my Instagram is alice_oscura and my Twitter handle is @lise_veliz2. For more on me you can click here.