Christmas, it seems to arrive a fraction earlier every year and this year is no different with the Dan Stevens film The Man Who Invented Christmas. The first week of December will see the true story of the conception of the greatest Christmas tale of all time, A Christmas Carol.
The Man Who Invented Christmas is the true story of Charles Dickens (Stevens) and how he conceived the idea of A Christmas Carol and then brought it to life in just a few short weeks. The film also deals with Dickens early life, his relationship with his family and his many eccentricities that people both loved and hated. Sprinkled in is a theatrical dose of wonder thanks to several magical decisions by director Bharati Nalluri who balances the more wondrous elements of the film with the human moments.
The word of the day when it comes to The Man Who Invented Christmas is charm the whole films radiates charm and it centres all around its leading man Mr. Stevens. Stevens is the main reason why this film works, he’s in every scene you follow his journey and you learn so much about what has made him the man he is and if Stevens wasn’t so magnetic this film wouldn’t work. Stevens Charles Dickens is an eccentric madman that tries so hard to please everyone so that he can make the world a brighter place because if you can do so why shouldn’t you which is his mantra in life. He does have a darker side though and as the film progresses audiences see how his past may haunt him more than even he realises. It’s quite a fantastic and dynamic contrast when seeing someone who brought so much joy to the world face real problems in their lives and it gives the audience a definitive sense of who Charles Dickens was and who he was to those around him.
The Man Who Invented Christmas also has a wonderful cinematic style where all of Dickens imaginative characters come to life to help him shape his world. It’s here we meet Christopher Plummers Scrooge who is a surprisingly dark force in the film, at first he’s the usual miser that everyone knows the character to be but towards the tale end of the film there is an emotional exchange between Scrooge and Dickens that shifts the character of Dickens and the audience’s perception of him to a whole new avenue and it was a highlight for me.
If there were issues with The Man Who Invented Christmas they would be with the handling of the creation of A Christmas Carol. Seeing the supposed inspirations for Dickens was interesting but at times was too on the nose for me. Watching how the people around him inspired the characters that would inhabit A Christmas Carol was a weak element. It came across as a Pantomime almost and not only that their scenes are only fleeting moments in the film as the true story of The Man Who Invented Christmas is dealing with who Charles Dickens was as an author, a husband, and a son. This was what brought me to the film and helped keep me engaged when some of the lesser aspects diminished the overall quality of the story.
The Man Who Invented Christmas is a quiet, thoughtful and intimate film and during this season that might be overlooked for the more bombastic event films that are coming out around it but it has enough charm, emotional weight, and quality that you should see it.