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Review: The Man Who Invented Christmas makes Dickens festive but frivolous

PUBLISHED: 17:17 01 December 2017 | UPDATED: 17:23 02 December 2017

Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens in The Man Who Invented Christmas. Photo: Thunderbird Releasing/Garlands Films DAC/Kerry Brown

Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens in The Man Who Invented Christmas. Photo: Thunderbird Releasing/Garlands Films DAC/Kerry Brown

Thunderbird Releasing/Garlands Films DAC/Kerry Brown

Bharat Nalluri’s comedy-drama adaptation of Les Standiford’s book, starring Downtown Abbey pin-up Dan Stevens, finds fun amid the tumultuous events leading to the publication of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.

Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens and Christopher Plummer as Ebenezer Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas. Photo: Thunderbird Releasing/Garlands Films DAC/Kerry Brown Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens and Christopher Plummer as Ebenezer Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas. Photo: Thunderbird Releasing/Garlands Films DAC/Kerry Brown

The Man Who Invented Christmas (PG)

***

Who was Charles Dickens?

One of the great Christmas traditions is retelling the same stories every year. With A Christmas Carol, his great rage against empty, soul destroying materialism, Dickens revived an unimportant holiday and set it on the path to being the great celebration of empty, soul destroying materialism it is today.

Jonathan Pryce as John Dickens in The Man Who Invented Christmas. Photo: Thunderbird Releasing/Garlands Films DAC/Kerry Brown Jonathan Pryce as John Dickens in The Man Who Invented Christmas. Photo: Thunderbird Releasing/Garlands Films DAC/Kerry Brown

Once you know it is about him you can probably guess most of the rest.

This adaptation of a book by Les Standiford, has Dickens racing against time to finish the book for Christmas, the characters coming to life and arguing with him about how the book should be and Dickens reflecting back over his life with his father (Jonathan Pryce).

Set in 1840s London, Dickens had been struggling to come up with fresh ideas after the failure of his last three works. However, when he’s inspired by the vision of a story that would fire the hearts of humanity, he set out to write and self-publish a book that would reignite his career - in just six weeks.

As the likes of Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Oscar-winner Christopher Plummer) and The Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future start coming to life in his head.

The Dickens is wrong with this film. It is a light piece but Downton Abbey and Beauty and the Beast star Dan Stevens’ take on the writer is just too frivolous to give the film any depth.

Racing around manically in a three piece suit and Beethoven hairdo, he resembles a failed Doctor Who audition, rejected for being a bit too obvious.

All the way through I was trying to think which British actor Stevens’ voice reminded me of. There’s definite a strong initial whiff of Cumberbatch to it but eventually I decided that he sounded like an anonymous composite of all of them.

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