It’s not that my standards for Christmas movies are lower, it’s that Christmas movies are not about the same things other kinds of movies are. When I’m watching a Christmas movie I know more or less the beats, the pacing, the steps. I don’t really watch to be surprised. I watch to laugh, to be entertained, and if possible, to feel a little of the magic of the holidays.
Add a pretty Christmas setting and actors with chemistry, and that’s just the icing in the cake. And yes, A Castle for Christmas is the perfect holiday dessert, with a good serving of icing and even a cherry on top.
If you’re inclined to be cynical, I will admit that no, Netflix’s A Castle for Christmas isn’t going to break the wheel, but it is trying to do something different by focusing on characters who are slightly older than we typically get in Christmas movies. Both have already lived their lives, and they’re not trying to discover who they are. If anything, this movie is about reinventing yourself, or – about the idea that you can always find your happiness, even if that might sometimes mean rising from the ashes of some great sadness.
Plus, the heroine is a writer, and not just any writer, she’s a writer of romance, who finds her own romance, that reads/looks just like …a romance novel. It’s my favorite kind of meta, romance within a romance!
Elwes and Shields are particularly good at what they each have to do, which shouldn’t be surprising, but ends up being a little because as much as Elwes is playing a grump, he’s not a villain, and as much as Shields is playing a self-assured woman ready to take back her life, she’s got her doubts, just as we do.
Like with any good Christmas movie, that’s where A Castle for Christmas excels. It takes the stereotypes, and it doesn’t quite flip them, but does modify them enough that you feel like the characters you’re watching and new, and relatable. Add the beautiful setting, that somehow gets even prettier by the presence of someone who appreciates the place, and of course, the magic of Christmas and love, and basically everything in this movie works.
Including the friendships! Because yes, our heroine gets to find her own place, a new love and yes, even friends in Scotland. Perhaps we should all go pay a visit to Scotland, because between this, Outlander and all the romance movies, I’m starting to think I’m missing out on something.
Pandemic woes and the general cost of life aside might keep us from Scotland, but nothing needs to keep you from watching this movie. Take a moment out of your holiday weekend, relax, get a warm cup of your favorite drink and let yourself be transported. You might just find yourself catching some feelings, the good kind.
A Castle for Christmas is available to stream on Netflix.