Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) is revered as a great writer in the London literary world. But, His last three books lost money and his extravagant life style costs money, something that is fast dwindling. And, he is suffering from his worst bout with writer’s block, ever. Searching for a new idea, he is inspired by his children’s nanny’s bedtime stories and writes the tale that will bring back the holiday long ignored in “The Man Who Invented Christmas.”
We had another how-the-book-came-to-be film recently with “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” about the creation of the beloved Winnie-the-Pooh stories. That film, though about its mirthful characters, is more about the after effects of war and the burden of fame. Director Bharat Nalluri, with Susan Coyne’s adaption of the Les Standiford’s non-fiction book, The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits, takes a mirthful route.
Dan Stevens stars as the famous author who, when we first meet him, is in the throes of lavishly decorating his new home and money is no object. Except, it is a very important object, indeed. Faced with mounting debt, his friend and literary agent, John Forster (Justin Edwards), pushes Dickens to come up with a new, publishable story – fast.
“The Man Who Invented Christmas” is a colorful, often-manic imagining of the creative process that Dickens endures to create what is, depending on whom you talk to, the greatest Christmas story every. Dan Stevens embraces his character with energy, and a great deal of glee, as Dickens slowly, painfully finds his characters and creates their individual stories.
We meet all of those people who are so familiar to us all as Dickens invents each – Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), Jacob Marley (Jacob Sumpter) and all the rest – from those people he knows. The film covers the frantic six-week deadline that Dickens promises to meet in return for the publisher’s cash advance. The trials and tribulations that he endures, especially when he makes the decision to self-publish his book, make for a lot of fun.
“The Man Who Invented Christmas” is a fun interpretation on how A Christmas Story came to be and we should all be glad it did. I give it a B-.
Dan Stevens gives an energetically madcap performance and the film does a good job of both analyzing the creative process and illustrating how Dickens's story really did change the way we celebrate Christmas, but one wonders just who this film is for - too sophisticated for small children and not sophisticated enough for adults. C+
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