This Christmas will change the Austin family forever. With a successful career in the wine business, two amazing children and having married his highschool sweetheart Suzie Maxwell, Andrew ... See full summary »
This Christmas will change the Austin family forever. With a successful career in the wine business, two amazing children and having married his highschool sweetheart Suzie Maxwell, Andrew Austin has everything. But life and a past secret quickly bring change and in an instant, life no longer has the order and gentleness it once held. Suzie falls extremly ill and as Andrew struggles to find answers, his children Chris and Mary quietly search for their own. Facing a hectic holiday season, Andrew and family retreat to their summer home on Lake Erie to celebrate their last Christmas in peace. Away from the demands of the city, their world opens up to a moment in time they will never experience again as their small lakeside community quickly brings them its own wonderments. Written by
Helen Welch, who plays the part of Rachel, is the singing voice for Jacqueline "Jack" Hourigan who plays the role of Suzie - Hourigan does a perfect lip sync rendition of two songs which were also written by Helen Welch and her late song writing partner Tim Freebairn. See more »
A Magic Christmas Night
Written by Mike Petrone
Performed by Helen Welch and Evelyn Wright See more »
Andrew might not have a nice Christmas this year. Not only does his wife Suzie have cancer, but it is suggested that his career is in trouble. We don't know exactly where they live, but Andrew listens to Cleveland radio station WGAR in the car.
Andrew attends a party alone because Suzie is just too sick to go, and Suzie is missed--especially because of her singing. We get to hear how talented Suzie is in one of the many flashbacks. In fact, Andrew and Suzie met because she was singing easy listening music in a night club.
Suzie still teaches music, even in her condition, and we get to hear one of her talented students, a young girl who is the niece of Charlie, a police officer who gives the family a sort of Christmas present (Andrew thinks he's getting a parking ticket). Charlie lost his wife and child, but he hasn't lost his Christmas spirit.
But Andrew gets good news about Suzie in a cell phone conversation with bad reception. So he and Suzie pack up son Chris and daughter Mary for a vacation at the old Maxwell place.
In the attic while looking for decorations, the kids find some old belongings of Suzie's (apparently she once lived here), and they also find things that belonged to Lucy. The mere mention of Lucy makes Suzie cry.
Andrew finds out that he did not hear all of the phone conversation, and Suzie's situation may not be getting better after all. But there is hope: a mysterious old man named Uncle Gus may have the answers.
Is this a family movie? It's debatable. There is no explicit content that would prevent kids from watching, but the scenes connected with Suzie's illness, including Andrew's struggle with the situation, are somewhat intense. Nevertheless, there are plenty of happy moments, especially in the flashbacks. And the movie's emphasis on faith is stronger than in many movies of this type.
Suzie had an abusive relationship in her past, though there are only hints of this. The strongest caution for parents is that young children should never hear about one topic implied in the movie. We never hear the words, but children might ask questions that they're not ready to hear the answers to. Older children might be able to handle it better.
Jack (short for Jacqueline) Hourigan gives a very good performance as Suzie. Although she is convincing as a sick person, she shows a full range of emotions. we do see the happy times, and she was quite pretty in the old days.
William Laufer, who also wrote and directed, gives the other standout performance as the priest who helps the family deal with their problems but doesn't judge.
The movie has plenty of good music, though very little of it is recognizable as Christmas music (one song has Christmas-related lyrics). There is lots of easy listening and jazz (not smooth jazz, but real jazz--and in a romantic flashback!).
It's worth seeing, but just be prepared for misery.
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