The Christmas Candle (G)

In a word: Glowing


WORKS AND MIRACLES: The Haddingtons (Syvester McCoy and Lesley Manville) meet with minister David Richmond (Hans Matheson) in The Christmas Candle.

"A film which manages to avoid being overly schmaltzy while capturing something of the heart of Christmas."


A story about faith, hope and love amid the sometimes bleak realities of life, The Christmas Candle grapples with some of the tough questions people face in their walk with God.

Based on a novel by Max Lucado, The Christmas Candle tells the story of a progressive clergyman David Richmond (Hans Matheson) who accepts the position of minister in the town of Gladbury.

But what Richmond doesn’t know is that for 200 years Gladbury has been home to a miracle – every 25 years an angel visits the local candle-maker’s house around Christmas and blesses a particular candle which is then given to the person most in need of a miracle in their life. And it just so happens that the year Richmond arrives is the year the villagers of Gladbury are expecting another visitation.

Richmond is a man who, thanks to his own painful past, doesn’t believe in miracles. Rather, he believes firmly in shining out Christ’s love to your neighbours through good works – he urges the villagers at one point to “be the miracle to each other” - a fact which brings him into immediate conflict with the villagers.

The film brings the conflict to a head and while the result is predictable, it doesn't attempt to neatly resolve every question raised but refreshingly leaves the audience, should they so choose, with some thinking yet to do. And while it's a small scale film – largely set within the village itself – as well as tackling issues of faith, it also touches on some of the broader issues of the late Victorian age in which it’s set (in fact, the setting should appeal to fans of period dramas).

Matheson is the stand-out in terms of acting but others in the British cast, including Samantha Banks, who plays the minister’s love interest Emily Barstow, James Cosmo, who plays Herbert Hopewell, and Sylvester McCoy and Lesley Manville, who play candle-makers Mr and Mrs Haddington, all put in solid performances even if script limitations mean we don't get to fully explore their characters. Others who appear in the film include John Hannah and former Britain's Got Talent contestant winner Susan Boyle - while her acting doesn't set the world on fire, that’s more than made up for by the beauty of her voice.

While this has been made for northern hemisphere audiences – meaning Christmas is about snow and freezing weather – in the darkness of the theatre, it’s easy to be transported there. A filmwhich manages to avoid being overly schmaltzy while capturing something of the heart of Christmas.