8 January 2009 | robert-temple-1
A Charming Christmas Fable
This Christmas fable makes no pretense at realism, though the largely unknown cast do very well in realistically portraying their characters in situations which are constantly hovering on the edge of fantasy. Peter Falk plays a mysterious 'Christmas angel' who pops up in many guises throughout the story, gently pushing people along to help them resolve their problems. In some instances, he goes over the edge and becomes silly (such as being the guard of a fire engine), and his costumes are very poor and cheapen his value, but as the story moves along, he gets into his stride and adds a dimension of magic to the tale, through sheer warm-hearted professionalism. The heart of the story is that a young man was so shaken by a tragic fire incident (he had been a heroic fireman, saving many lives) that he dropped out, abandoned his mother and sister, left town and disappeared for years. The story is all about his coming to terms with his past, and his sister's determined efforts to persuade him to rejoin his family and rejoin life as well. This is a perfectly harmless family movie where people are not slitting throats, firing guns, or copulating on camera, so that one hardly believes one is in contemporary times. They are just living, but magic enters their lives as they struggle with their problems. People who criticize this film for being a bit corny and sentimental should better spend their time criticizing the wicked films instead, where everybody gets murdered and raped and tortured. After all, there is nothing wrong with people making pleasant films once in a while, even if they are not great art. Nor does great art always have to involve graphic sex and violence. The people who claim they are only being 'realistic' by wanting to pour blood and gore all over the screen are deeply sick people, and we should not be supporting them. We should not be ashamed of some honest sentiment, or lack of realism, if it doesn't hurt anybody!