A widow plans to give Christmas festivities a miss, as they bring back too many memories of her late husband.A widow plans to give Christmas festivities a miss, as they bring back too many memories of her late husband.A widow plans to give Christmas festivities a miss, as they bring back too many memories of her late husband.
1. It's sweet without being sappy, a real relief to see a Hallmark holiday romance where the story is not over the top mushy and crowded with cliché.
2. the actors look and dress like real people, and their houses are closer to normal family homes than Hollywood-scale sets. A little crowded, a little dusty, with short sight-lines.
3. Kellie Martin (who plays Kathy, the widow running her late husband's dream shop) has a face that's lived a life and felt sorrow. She's not touched up to look like a typical young TV widow who has never actually wept or frowned (except beautifully). She moves flawlessly between strong and vulnerable, sadness and humour, tidy and a bit of a mess. She looks and sounds REAL.
4. Cameron Mathison as Tim is cute, in a harmlessly rugged kind of way. A former soap opera actor, he is muted and believable in his character and, unlike so many romantic-movie leads, marked but not terribly traumatized by his past life experiences. He doesn't need to be redeemed through the love of a good woman. There's a bit of believable tension and confusion, both internal and (as expected) external, about an old love affair. He behaves like a nice man, someone you would want to meet or have as a neighbour.
5. The secondary characters seem like real people with their own lives, not the story kind who live their whole lives in service of their cooler or more troubled friend. They never distract from the simple, touching story at the heart of the movie. Jewel Staite is great as Kathy's best friend Jenna, warm and cute and concerned, but clearly has her own life. There's good, credible friend-chemistry between the two, a level of comfort and non-competition that many women wish for and never find.
6. It made me want to go skating again (and eat Christmas cookies, but that I do anyway).
Anyway, without being a great classic in the making, this is a very nice way to spend an evening in the holiday TV season, with ordinary people working through ordinary situations. I know that sounds dull, but if you're tired of the kitcsch and hype of the usual TV fare, this is a nice change of pace that maintains the seasonal glow.
- Dec 22, 2013