Just before the holidays, a progressive young clergyman named David (Hans Matheson) takes over a church in a small village called Gladbury in late 19th century England. The town is known for its miracle — every 25 years an angel appears to touch one of the candle maker’s Christmas candles. Whoever lights that candle receives a miracle. This year, there is tremendous anticipation and there are many in the town who want the miracle for themselves, including the candle maker and his wife. David encourages his parishioners not to wait for a miracle but to help each other through kindness, generosity, humility, and love. And soon the village creates a more connected community and a more welcoming environment.
The evident sincerity of the production is appealing but it cannot disguise a not-ready-for-prime-time amateurish quality in the superficiality of the writing and pedestrian direction. It is awkward and uneven, but it is also a little less sugary than most faith-based family fare. Lesley Manville gives a subtle and touching performance that transcends the clunky dialogue and over-constructed plot and Susan Boyle looks very natural in 19th century garb and sings beautifully. The emphasis on helping others rather than wishing for a selfish miracle is most welcome, though disappointingly undercut in the final half hour.
Parents should know that there are some mature themes, including an out of wedlock pregnancy and family estrangement.
Family discussion: What would you wish for? Who can you help?
If you like this, try: “Christmas with a Capital C”