...shining light on the media, one review at a time
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. At least, that should be the case, but sadly is not true for everyone. For some, the Christmas season causes the opposite of what the holiday represents, bringing not hope and peace but rather depression, strife, and loneliness. In an increasingly secular society, it’s easy for even the most diehard Christmas fans to lose sight of the true meaning of this most special holiday. For a reminder of what Christmas really means and a moving story that reveals the light that overcomes darkness, one need look no further than the film, Christmas Child.
Jack Davenport is stuck. As a journalist, he can’t seem to get a single decent story, and as a husband he can’t find even one happy moment with his wife. He could blame his troubles on the recent death of his adoptive father, which left him parentless. Or, he could blame it, as his wife does, on his workaholic tendencies and demanding job. Another option would be to explain his feelings as a mid-life crisis. He is, after all, about to turn the big 4-0 on his birthday Christmas Eve.
Yes, Jack has double the reasons to celebrate Christmas, but he feels far from festive. He grows increasingly unsettled and lost when he discovers an old photo in his adoptive father’s belongings that is labeled Clearwater, TX. Jack can’t shake the feeling that the photo may have something to do with his adoption, but he attempts to put his curiosity aside long enough for the Christmas office party.
The party ends up resulting in more tension for his marriage when Jack accepts an ill-timed assignment that will take him to Texas, far from his Chicago home on his birthday and Christmas. Leaving his wife behind with a mutual agreement that separation may be the best thing for their relationship, Jack heads for Texas a few days early, allowing him time to stop off in Clearwater.
In this idyllic little southern town, Jack finds more than one colorful character and more mysteries than he expected. Thanks to a friendly pastor, Jack learns the answers to issues much bigger even than the hidden facts of his birth—he discovers the truth of the Child.
Even with the plethora of Christmas films that flood the market every holiday season, many seem to be reruns of old ideas, making it rare to find one that can truly be deemed original. Christmas Child is one of those few, taking the creative Max Lucado tale on which the film is based and developing it into a meaningful, compelling drama for the screen.
Likely due to the story’s creation by Lucado, Christmas Child is more overtly Christian than most offerings of late, even than most of the videos sold in Christian bookstores. The film stops just short of communicating a complete Gospel message, but clearly presents the truth that Christmas is about the “God who came.” The mature topics and issues dealt with in the movie are appropriate for families, but young children might get a little lost and not appreciate the story as much as older viewers. However, no negative or offensive content sullies the positive themes, which include God’s love, forgiveness, family, marriage, and adoption.
The pro-life message of adoption is especially emphasized, though not at all in a lecture or other off-putting format. Rather, this theme is centrally woven into the compelling drama and positioned at the core of the main character’s life, identity, and the mysteries driving his journey. Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman, well-known for his adoption advocacy, appropriately gets to be a spokesperson for the miracle of adoption in this film, as an actor.
Though Chapman, playing the helpful pastor Jack meets, is the weakest link in the cast, his few moments of awkwardness are barely noticeable next to the consummate performances of the lead actors. The acting is, without a doubt, this movie’s greatest strength, and it shows most clearly in William R. Moses and Megan Follows, who fill the roles of Jack and Meg Davenport. Moses’ character demands extensive emotional range and a high level of transparency in order to ensure the audience relates and attaches to him, even when he’s being unlikable. Moses accomplishes that and more.
In a brilliant casting move, Megan Follows, from Anne of Green Gables fame, pairs perfectly with Moses as his wife, supporting (and often supplanting) Moses with her unremitting authenticity and raw emotion. The only regretful choice for the filmmakers might be in failing to write Follows into more scenes.
Come the busyness of the Christmas season, is Christmas Child worth your precious time? If you enjoy a movie with all the Christmas trimmings, one that will make you laugh and cry, as well as leave you uplifted and thinking when it’s over, then yes. If you need to be reminded of the Child, the God who came, then this film is worth your time in silver and gold.