The Man Who Invented Christmas

1hr 44mins | Rated PG | Adult themes

The best of all the Christmas movies coming out on the dot of December, The Man Who Invented Christmas is the tale of Charles Dickens coming up with his classic story A Christmas Carol.
As played by Downton Abbey's wonderful Dan Stevens, the author turns out to be a surprisingly likeable fellow and the provenance of his bestseller, a highly entertaining yarn.
We first meet Dickens as he tours America following the success of Oliver Twist, being heralded as a literary celebrity. Fast-forward 16 months and Dickens is a flop-writer with an almost slapstick rendition of writer's block. As his wife spends up large to decorate their new house (at which time they already have four of their eventual 10 children), financial pressures loom as the once great writer struggles to come up with his next hit.
This is one of those abundantly entertaining stories where all the little pieces of the puzzle gradually fall into place to serve as inspiration for the great writer's great novel. As he encounters innocent servants, greasy lawyers and random people on the street, Dickens' writerly brain whirrs and spins as his novella starts to write itself.
The film has a terrific cast who play both his real-life family and friends and the characters in his burgeoning story, torturing him at his writing desk by seeming to have minds of their own about where the story should go. Jonathan Pryce, Simon Callow and Donald Sumpter have a blast in their roles, while most notable is a gruff Christopher Plummer who haunts the writer as Ebenezer Scrooge.
Beautifully production designed, lit and acted, The Man Who Invented Christmas is ably directed by Bharat Nalluri whose 2008 film Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day had the same sense of verve and exuberance. Some may find the style a bit over the top, but it's in keeping with the jolly pace and engaging rolling out of the tale, and makes for a perfect Christmas fable.
Sunday Star Times

Stars: Dan Stevens, Jonathan Pryce, Christopher Plummer