An aspiring artist is hired as a Christmas gift buyer for a high- powered business man with whom she falls in love.
First of all, I would be remiss if I did not mention how much this film unexpectedly touched me. At the heart of the story is the comprehension and acceptance that redirection of goals and dreams is sometimes a difficult process, but it is something to be anticipated rather than avoided. As an artist myself (not a visual artist, however), I found myself understanding the message of this story because, in one sense, I have lived the message of the story over the past year or so. Had I not learned what Anna ultimately discovers, I wouldn’t even be writing this review right now. And it is that so many have chosen to invest time and effort into the actualization of what I never dreamed I could accomplish. So while this may not be my absolute favorite new film of the season, it is the film (so far) that resonates with my spirit and being at the deepest level.
Although Melanie is a “newer kid on the block,” so to speak, I found myself quite impressed with her depiction of Marie, Anna’s long-suffering sister who only wishes for her sister to find enduring and genuine love. While she does tend to rely on Anna for last-minute babysitting assignments, her heart is always in the right place. Moreover, Anna has been residing with her sister, so it only makes sense that the expectation would be there for Anna to help out now and then. With heart and soul, Melanie immerses herself into the role, and there is no doubt in my mind that she will soon be a regular on Hallmark (and other networks) films as she is just that gifted. While Marie is not an overly dramatic character, Melanie has the uncanny knack for milking every scene to ensure that her character makes a statement that is neither forgotten nor overdone.
No stranger to the screen, Donna plays the consummate doting mother of Marc. While I do not remember her specifically, I recognize many of her roles so I am sure I have seen her (I am not a soap opera enthusiast, therefore I have not seen some of her more recognized work). Donna plays Joyce in a way with which most mothers can identify. She only thirsts for her son to find a woman with whom he can share his life and that will ultimately make him happy for the rest of his life. She is concerned that her son is invariably too busy in the corporate world with major workaholic tendencies, and her reception of Anna is just too darling for words. As Joyce, Donna gives a manageable, relatable, and welcoming performance that comes across as being effortless and authentic.
There is never any doubt that at the core of this film is this beloved couple. You might recognize Katrina from Snow Bride (one of my all-time favorite Hallmark Christmas films), and Aaron is a relative newcomer (he is in another film coming up this weekend, A Prince for Christmas on Ion network). I found that the chemistry and interactions between these two are exactly what I expect and have come to relish about Hallmark. As I have mentioned in other reviews, all too often, on-screen chemistry in this day and age involves lip-locking, suggestive talk, and passionate bedrooms. Sometimes Hallmark will feature a couple with explosive chemistry, which is perfectly acceptable once in a while, but the chemistry between these two is just precious and romantic. It’s a reminder that true love is so much more than the overtly sexual images that bombard our society today. Couples like these two remind us that lasting love requires friendship, common goals, and above all, putting the other first.
And with Hallmark, we can almost always count on aspiring child actresses like these two–Alyssa and Laiya both make their debut in this film, and they are ideally cast as Anna’s effervescent nieces. It is apparent that not only are they having a blast, but their charming performances earn them an honorable mention in my review. I can only hope that they will have more opportunities in the near future to share their undeniable talent.
As a “family,” everyone seems to match so flawlessly. I never question the veracity of the emotion, interactions, and transport that envelops a scene such as this. It is an excellent testimonial of the sincere meaning of the holiday season and what is valuable in life. There are enough things in this world to dampen our cheer, so let’s celebrate the blessings.
With his depiction of Marc, I was infatuated with Aaron’s performance the moment he appeared on the screen. Not only is he dashingly handsome, but his performance is exemplary. Aaron emerges to be one of those actors who instinctively and effortlessly portrays his character. Although his career is still young, I am pleased Hallmark gave him the chance to definitively sparkle in this role. I will look forward to seeing more from him in the future. But for now, the viewers can sit back and bask in the glow of a charming performance from him that fills us with promises that true gentlemen still do exist in this world. And as Marc, he completely sweeps Anna off her feet as a surrogate prince that envelops every young girl’s dream.
I genuinely cannot speak profoundly enough of Katrina’s performance as Anna. Once in a while, an actor comes along who has it all–beauty, charm, grace, joi de vivre, and categorical talent. And Katrina is simply that complete package. Her performance is matchless, and every time she waltzes onto the screen, I find myself enthralled. She is wholly immersed in her character, and her prowess is practically legendary. The vulnerability and strength she injects into this role cause me to respect her talent even more. As we journey with her through this tale of emotional ups and downs, she transports us with her as only she can do. We experience everything from her perspective, and when her character ultimately determines the truth that has been right in front of her all along, we rejoice, and if you’re like me, you may even shed a tear. The ending left me with renewed hope and a sense of purpose. Even non-artists can appreciate the sentiment of being redirected, as life is often fraught with twists and turns and rarely ends the way we think it will. While this film is not my absolute favorite Christmas film, it certainly ranks in my top ten for this year.
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