“Angel of Christmas” Hallmark Movie Review

By Ruth on December 31, 2015 in Christmas, Holidays, movie, review, television
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[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-OYdiIs_nc[/embedyt]

Based on the popular novel by Jane Maas, “Angel Of Christmas” follows Susan Nicholas, a newspaper writer whose boss has been given her three weeks to write a holiday story about her great grandfather and the angel he carved as a young man. As the days countdown to her Christmas Eve deadline, Susan finds herself being courted by two very different men as she unravels the details of a romantic triangle from her grandfathers’ life. In the end, both the past and the present will lead back to the Angel of Christmas.

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First of all, I apologize for posting this review so late, and I realize it may not even be possible for viewers to see this film until “Christmas in July” or even next Christmas, but it was such a gem of a film that I felt I had to review it even though the Christmas season is nearly past. Because Hallmark had so many Christmas films in their line-up (and many of them were not available for me to watch ahead of time), I am thrilled to finally share my thoughts about this film. Interestingly enough, I was initially rather certain I would find no merit within this film, but thankfully, the stellar acting and clever storyline changed my mind.  I regret to admit I have not read the book upon which this movie is based, so I will be unable to tell you how well (or not) this film follows the book. Nonetheless, this is one of those films that has a unique twist that will keep the viewers guessing along the way in addition to its upstanding cast.

Christie Lang as Hayley

Christie Laing as Hayley

I am elated when I see familiar faces in films like these, and Christie is one of these. I remember her mostly from Unreal, and in the role of Hayley she receives her chance to sparkle again. Of course, she is such a seasoned professional by now that if you look up her resume, you might identify a sufficient amount of her works. She is one who constantly delivers a solid performance, and even when her part is small, she is memorable. 

Based on the popular novel by Jane Maas, "Angel Of Christmas" follows Susan Nicholas, a newspaper writer whose boss has been given her three weeks to write a holiday story about her great grandfather and the angel he carved as a young man. As the days countdown to her Christmas Eve deadline, Susan finds herself being courted by two very different men as she unravels the details of a romantic triangle from her grandfathers' life. In the end, both the past and the present will lead back to the Angel of Christmas. Photo: Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Christie Laing (Hayley),  Jennifer Finnigan (Susan) Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Chloe McClay (Jessica Rose)

Chloe McClay (Jessica Rose)

As portions of the story are detailed through flashback as Susan attempts to unravel the story associated with the much-celebrated (and maybe magical) family Christmas angel, we are treated to the performance of this relatively new actress, Chloe. She plays Jessica Rose, the actress to whom Owen long ago gave his heart. As Susan continues to follow the rabbit trail to its ultimate conclusion, it’s a treat to see what is expressed through journals in the book, come to life in the signature way only Hallmark can.

Marc Bendavid Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Marc Bendavid (Owen) Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

And it is through the skillful acting of Marc as Owen that we witness the journey this Christmas angel has made. As a supporter of the show Dark Matter, I was pleased to see the actor that brought the character “One” to life in that show, breathe life into another significant character. 

 Holly Robinson Peete (Yvette) Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Holly Robinson Peete (Yvette) Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

As Susan’s tough-as-nails editor, Holly portrays Yvette in exactly the way one would expect a businesswoman like her to behave. I thought for sure I recognized Holly from something else, but alas, I do not recognize anything in her extensive resume.

Holly Robinson Peete Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Holly Robinson Peete Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

No matter, it is her character that pushes and prods Susan to become the writer Susan purports to be.  It is obvious that Yvette thinks Susan can write the story, but she also knows that she must ensure that Susan finds the “story behind the story.”

 Jennifer Finnigan, Holly Robinson Peete Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Jennifer Finnigan, Holly Robinson Peete Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

When Yvette throws the gauntlet down, Susan accepts the challenge almost unwillingly. Yvette senses Susan’s reluctance to investigate and report on anything that directly relates to Christmas. But Yvette is a crafty administrator and does not have time to wait for Susan’s response forever. She gives a deadline, and she will accept nothing less than what she has required from Susan. And if Susan decline to comply, rookie Susan may never have the chance again.

Holly Robinson Peete, Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Holly Robinson Peete, Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

This duo works exceptionally well together. Jennifer (who plays Susan and whose individual review is upcoming) portrays the young writer who only desires to please her editor and be given the opportunity to write the “story of the year.”

Holly Robinson Peete, Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Holly Robinson Peete, Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

But she simply wishes that Yvette would see reason–Christmas and Susan are not on speaking terms, and she attempts to avoid holiday cheer like the plague. However, Yvette refuses to give up and continues to hold out hope that young Susan will deliver. But in the end, Yvette has to keep in mind what is necessary to run a newspaper and a profitable business.

Holly Robinson Peete Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Holly Robinson Peete Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

And there is no doubt in my mind that Holly has fully immersed herself in this role. I unmistakably need to examine her other works as she is a fantastic and accomplished actress.

Jonathan Scarfe Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Brendan Meadows

Jonathan Scarfe as Brady Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Brendan Meadows

Jonathan is one of those actors that just makes the audience instantly like him the moment he appears on the screen. He is effortless in all of his portrayals, and he has that natural ruggedness about him that so many of us women find alluring without being overdone. Many viewers will remember him from Ties that Bind, but I most cherished him with Ali Sweeney earlier this year in Love on the Air. He always seems to “walk to the beat of his own drummer,” but Jonathan knows how to make that walk notably appealing to all. And as Brady, he is impeccably cast since his character is the free-thinking artist-type.

 Jennifer Finnigan, Jonathan Scarfe Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Jennifer Finnigan, Jonathan Scarfe Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

It’s safe to say that the moment Jonathan’s character sees Susan, it is love at first sight–at least for him. Since she has recently terminated a relationship (not really of her own choosing either), she is not ready to dive into another one right away, if ever. Furthermore, she has work to do, and Brady would plainly be a distraction. But the chemistry between these two is almost instantaneous. She may resist what she senses in her heart (and what the family angel is indicating as well), but there is no denying these two should be together (and since it is Hallmark, is there ever any question?).

Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

I recognized Jennifer the moment she appeared on screen, but I just couldn’t place her. Then when I saw Babysellers in her credit list, I knew directly! And what a different role this is for her. In Babysellers, she was constantly in severe and immediate danger. In this film, Jennifer gets to let her character relax and go on a search through family history to discover the story behind a treasured family heirloom that everyone in the family swears has authentically mysterious powers in the choice of one’s life partner (which is why, according to her mother, her last relationship fell apart).  Fortunately, Susan gets to have a little bit of a romantic fling (with a man who we can only hope and pray is her soulmate) on the side.

Tahmoh Penikett as Derek, Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Tahmoh Penikett as Derek, Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Of course, there is another potential suitor–Derek as played by Tahmoh. Yet another actor that has plenty of experience, but I have not been fortunate enough to see him until now. He is the exact opposite of the liberated Brady (even though there is no denying the charm and finesse Tahmoh has brought to this role), and we can’t help but wonder whom the angel would pick for her. Or is the angel to be trusted after all these years in the family?

 Jonathan Scarfe, Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Jonathan Scarfe, Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

If it is a matter of chemistry, the audience knows the proper choice for our heroine. Her chemistry with Derek (as played by Tahmoh) cannot hold a candle to the simple, classic, and amusing chemistry she shares with Brady. While she may be considered a “Grinch” or a “Scrooge,” it is Brady who stands beside her and gives her the nudge she needs (and even helps her out when she is grappling with how to tie up the loose ends of her account).

Jennifer Finnigan, Jonathan Scarfe Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Jennifer Finnigan, Jonathan Scarfe Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Watching these two capable actors together is such a Christmas (or any time) indulgence. Jennifer has a smile that illuminates the room, and it seems that Jonathan’s mannerisms, and sometimes even antics, can bring that smile to her so readily. And they are able to build this chemistry within their respective characters in the way that expert artists like these two can. In fact, two things drew me to this film, and their chemistry was one of them. Moreover, I was only looking forward to this film because of Jonathan, but with the addition of Jennifer, they both captivated me.

 Photo: Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Photo: Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

After seeing Jennifer in this variety of roles, I believe it demonstrates just what a versatile actress she is. She can go from an agent being placed in life-threatening situations to being a sweet but somewhat misguided reporter who needs to discover true love in order to unlock the joy and peace that  is hidden within her heart. After seeing her in this film and the ease with which she deftly characterizes Susan, I definitely will keep my eyes open for her in the future.

Jonathan Scarfe, Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Jonathan Scarfe, Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

As these two begin to work together to solve the riddle of the family heirloom, I found myself completely spellbound by the tale. The fact that this story added a bit of mystery and intrigue made me even more favorably disposed to this film.

Jonathan Scarfe, Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Jonathan Scarfe, Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

It is delectable to see Brady as the one who is instrumental in assisting her in her sidetracked quest for a renewed Christmas spirit and maybe even a chance to believe in the miracle of the angel. But it is that gentle nature which Jonathan infuses into Brady’s character that prompts me to adore him as an actor even more.

Jonathan Scarfe, Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

Jonathan Scarfe, Jennifer Finnigan Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams

While the ending is never actually in question, the ride to which we are privy is what always makes or breaks a film like this. When I watched the previews for this film, I admit that I expected it to be foolish, trite, and tedious.  I was only watching it because it was Hallmark, and I liked Jonathan as an actor. But all of the dynamic actors rescued the movie for me, and the intelligent storyline reeled me in a way few of these kinds of films do. I desired to know the family secret, and I longed for Susan to write the story in time for Christmas Eve as her editor instructed her. Everything concluded as it should, and I left feeling warm and fuzzy with Christmas spirit. If you get the opportunity to watch this film, no matter the season, make sure you do as its unique qualities and superlative acting will be well worth the time invested in viewing.

For more information:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5097970/?ref_=nv_sr_1

http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/angel-of-christmas

 

 

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth

43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl
Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA
Entertainment Writer
Available For Interviews and Reviews
Substitute Teacher

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