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Susan Coyne (screenplay), Les Standiford (book)
The last Christmas Ireland and Canada collaborated on a film that had a setting in NYC was the film BROOKLYN that was an immense success, critically, commercially and financially. THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS appears on paper as another perfect adaptation, that begins in NYC at Yuletide. This is the story of how Charles Dickens came to write about A CHRISTMAS CAROL, the arguably most popular of all his novels – yes the one where Ebenezer Scrooge turned over a new leaf after meeting the ghosts of Christmas, past present and future.
The film opens in 1943 in NYC, right after Dickens (played cheerfully by DOWNTON ABBEY’s Dan Stevens) achieved fame an success from his latest book “Oliver Twist”. He is the toast of the town. An appearance at a theatre shows him over celebrated amidst dancing fanfare and fireworks that shock him, literally to the ground.
The idea of making a film about the writing process of A CHRISTMAS CAROL instead of another remake make seems more logical given the uncountable number of film or TV films made already. Unfortunately, THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS based on the reported well-researched book of the same name by Les Standiford on the inspirations behind Charles Dickens’ beloved ‘A Christmas Carol,’ is a travesty.
For one, though the biopic reveals lesser-known details of the author’s life, these details are not so favourable, thus changing the beloved view the public has on the man – not a good idea at Christmas, the time of good cheer. Dickens is portrayed as a man who loves fame, who is often out of touch with his family and book ideas. He thinks he can come up with a hit at any time and the fact that he has had several flops after “Oliver Twist” never bothers him. He does not have any financial sense. But worse of all, director Nalluri makes the fatal mistake to reveal that Dickens steals ideas and names, and does not possess original ideas for his stories.
To make matters worse, Christmas is depicted here as dying commercially. It is deemed to be an excuse for workers to take a day off. Dickens is shown the awkwardness of a tall Christmas tree, and told that the Germans use it.
The film does look good with sufficiently cheery Christmas period atmosphere with horse drawn carriages and some snow.
The films highlights Oscar Winner Christopher Plummer in the role of Scrooge. Plummer only briefly appears and does the customary performance that is nothing special.
THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS offers nothing more than the disgusting artificial cheer of the season. Everyone is supposed to be in good spirits with all the problems of the world hidden away. A predictable story, bland direction and unconvincing acting among other things result in this very bland and boring Christmas film.
There is only one word to describe THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS. In the words of Ebenezer Scrooge: “Humbug!”