Christmas in Conway (2013)
still moments of a Christmas theme is a risk. Fortunately, this is one film
that pulls it off.
Garcia) proposed to his wife on a Ferris wheel… and it was magical. Many years
since and the couple has been happy making a home in their small town. This
Christmas is different – Suzy (Mary Louise-Parker) has been battling cancer
it’s no longer a matter of if, it’s
now a waiting game. Caring for his wife is Duncan’s whole world and in order to
make her days special, he undertakes the impossible; he begins building a
Ferris wheel in his back yard. The most unexpected gifts come of this Christmas
– including the young in-home nurse, Natalie (Mandy Moore)
beginning to blossom to new possibilities – and it’s in these gifts that Duncan
wants the season to be his wife’s most special.
and the turmoil that awaits loved ones in the aftermath of a death is not
something I’d be up for – particularly when it’s set against the Christmas
season! Luckily, I’ll overlook that in favor of this touching scenario. Instead
of being a hindrance, the script was beautiful and the cast was wonderful, all
consummate professionals who put heart and personality into their roles. Somehow
the characters didn’t have a lot of room to grow; this is for two reasons. The story
is told in a limiting timeframe (both figuratively and literally) and the
emphasis is on Duncan coming to terms with the looming darkness his life will
become after Suzy. What cumulates is something both beautiful and a proper
tearjerker. It was a bit underwhelming to realize that all the characters were
more “supports” to the Ferris wheel projects yet that (surprisingly) didn’t diminish
the quality of the storytelling.
Garcia and Parker were special together and I absolutely loved Suzy’s
free-spirit personality. Whether it was the terms of endearment she had for the
people in her life or the grace with which she came to terms with her illness,
Parker played the southern lady nicely. It was fun seeing Mandy Moore in something
again and the progression of her relationship with the Mayors played out to any
viewer’s satisfaction. What really
impresses in this film was its ability to balance its serious side with some
lighthearted moments – it was something to respect and love. There are the poignant moments
involving Suzy, both with Duncan and even Natalie and Suzy, then a subplot
involving a neighborhood decorating tradition which suitably lightens the mood
and makes us giggle over the funny-ness of it all. Plus all-around, with exception to Duncan’s occasional (understandable) tantrum, it was refreshing to watch a compelling story without so much drama. Uncharacteristic to this brand (Hallmark Hall
of Fame) there were a few technical flubs; the sound mixing was a bit out of place
with some over exaggerated sounds that seemed to “echo,” however it did smooth
itself out before its first commercial break.
of telefilms that have come before this in this seasonal series, Christmas in Conway is again, another
sweet script that shares the importance of living every day to its fullest and
the pain of letting go. There are some nice parallels (romances that end and
begin to blossom) and lessons of forgiveness.
what’d you think? What’s your favorite Hallmark Hall of Fame…?