Holiday Watch: An Old-Fashioned Christmas

Following a young woman in this period piece, An Old-Fashioned Christmas, opts to break out of the traditional formula for a holiday film and delivers, instead, a solid story filled with choices, consequences, love, disappointment, greed, and good old-fashioned humanity. The question is: does it deliver on the holiday theme?

Let me start by saying that I enjoyed this movie. Still, the more I think on it, I wonder: should it rightfully be classified as a holiday movie? Yes, it’s set during the weeks before Christmas, but is that enough to make it more than simply setting? Given that movies such as It’s a Wonderful Life and Little Women are often labeled as holiday fare even though most of those films take place outside of that season, I’d have to begrudgingly say that An Old-Fashioned Christmas also fits the criteria.

The fact is that this movie is more of a traditional romance with Christmas little more than set dressing. We have Tilly, a young woman with some writing talent in the midst of a world-tour with her maternal grandmother who is rather particular about social niceties. Tilly meets up with a roguish suitor at the Irish castle they stay at over the holidays. It turns out that Tilly has a fiance, “Gad”, from whom she’s been estranged for the past two years due to her travels. Through various machinations, Gad arrives and now Tilly has two men willing to fight for her.

Complicating matters is the fact that Tilly has come to Ireland on her own mission: to find her paternal grandfather and family. Given the existing class structure as well as her grandmother’s falling out with that side of the family, passions are incited.

What appeals to me about this movie is that the outcomes that are so easy to predict for a holiday movie are more difficult here. Instead of being presented with the perfect suitor who contrasts with the obviously-not-right-for-her boyfriend/fiance, we have a woman presented with two different but equally plausible choices. This isn’t a blatant, plot-driven manipulation–the character is actually presented with a choice. The call isn’t clear. I found this to be not only amazingly refreshing but exactly a turn that I’d been discussing with others only a few days before.

There is also the relationship with her paternal family that alone would have likely been enough to carry a movie, though without, perhaps, quite as much depth. (Mention must also be made to a groveling scene that is among the best I’ve seen.)

Whether or not An Old-Fashioned Christmas is the sort of movie you consider to be a holiday movie, the fact is that as a movie it holds and keeps your attention. Is it a classic? No. It’s also not fluff. If a costumed romance piece doesn’t turn you off, I recommend you give it try.

3.25 of 5 

For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies

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