This is the fictional story of how the great British Victorian novelist Charles Dickens came to write his classic tale that many hold responsible for making Christmas one our most popular holidays. When we first catch sight of Dickens (Dan Stevens) he is touring America at the height of his fame. When he returns to London, the success entices him to lash out and buy a big town house which he starts to furnish rather extravagantly.
Now having to run his ever-increasing rather large household, matters start getting very dicey for him when his next three books are flops and the money starts to dry up. Desperate for a new idea for his next novel he picks up on a bedtime story that his new house maid is reading to his young children that plants the seeds for what will eventually become his classic Christmas Carol.
His publishers however do not share his enthusiasm when he recounts the outline of the bare bones of the plot, so an exasperated Dickens storms out of their office declaring he will finance the whole project himself. It is not just the expense that is the obstacle but also the fact that they are only a few weeks away from Christmas already.
The director Bharat Nalluri working from screenplay by Susan Coyne which she adapted from Les Standiford‘s book shows Dicken’s imagination mixing the magical mystical element of the story as the characters literally come alive. The odd thing is that as he still seems to have some sort of writers block, the ideas don’t flow to him, but come in a series of ‘a-ha’ moments which are much more Hollywood than Victorian.
It’s no secret that not only does the struggling author overcome all the obstacles but the book gets published on time and becomes an instant best-seller that has not waned to this day.
This earnest, but very lightweight movie will no doubt be a great crowd pleaser during the Christmas season when everyone is in such good spirits and and wants an overly sentimental happy ending. It has an excellent talented Brit cast, most of whom like Simon Callow and Miriam Margolyes have very little to do, and the one real star turn is Christopher Plummer who was an excellent Scrooge. Dan Stevens, fresh off Downtown Abbey, however was woefully unconvincing as the great man of letters himself and was one of the reasons why at 104 minutes, this overly long movie seemed to drag far too often. And this is not a case of simply calling Humbug!