Adopted from the Les Stanford book; the screenplay by Susan Coyne, The Man Who Invented Christmas is Bharat Nalluri’s seasonal offering. This “bio-comedy/drama” elicits chuckles and a lot of tears in this telling of how Charles Dickens creates one of the most popular Christmas tales ever. Only the most cold hearted “Scrooge” of a viewer will not “bawl” his or her eyes out at the film’s story.
Dan Stevens is Dickens, Christoper Plummer is Scrooge, Jonathan Pryce is the feckless father that Charles Dickens loves to hate and newcomer Anna Murphy is Tara; the Irish maid who becomes, to a degree, Dickens’ muse. The cast is full of splendid English character actors who are all familiar faces to those across the pond and each helps to bring this tale to brilliant life.
In The Man Who Invented Christmas the once celebrated author has had three flops in a row and he is suffering writer’s block. A chance incident provides inspiration and while his erstwhile agent and friend (played by the brilliant John Edwards) supports the increasingly desperate writer.
There are elements of melodrama in this Christmas tale about the miser who changes his ways after being visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve. Nalluri gives us a Dickens with a bootblack background who interacts with the character’s of his books as he works toward a satisfactory ending.
The sets, the costumes and the actors all go toward recreating London in the early 1840s. Dickens is a tortured soul with more than enough “Scrooge” in his soul to upset everyone who loves him. His wife suffers his mood swings and foul temper as best she can and Charles’ father tries too hard to atone for his past sins.
Despite the drama, there are many amusing elements to the film and with the cream of English filmdom applying their trade almost effortlessly, there is no doubt that this new “take” on “A Christmas Carol” will also become a classic. All the performers work seamlessly making their characters fit together perfectly.
Personal favorite Simon Callow plays Leech, the illustrator with his usual flair and the delightful Miriam Margolyes, as well as Morfydd Clark and Ger Ryan, prove that the ladies in this cast are no shirkers in the acting department either.
The Man Who Invented Christmas contains enough glimpses, and nods and winks, to the tale that has been made into plays, films and television adaptations, that fans of the story will be moved to tears repeatedly. This drama/comedy with its biographical overtones may be an imaginative and somewhat fanciful look at how Dickens created Scrooge and, indeed, all his characters but it works beautifully.
Having seen the late Albert Newly bring Scrooge to life in 1994 on a London stage and turn in a performance that was, in a word, brilliant, it was just as impressive to see what Plummer does with this famous character. The Canadian octogenarian makes the miser his own and bestows a sly wit upon this curmudgeonly workhouse fan.
The Man Who Invented Christmas is a tearful 5 star effort. If watched in the cinema, the viewer should brings copious amounts of tissues and prepare to be embarrassed by all the fluid streaming down their face.
This one is a winner.
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