'Christmas Ever After' Review: Wheelchair-bound actor Ali Stroker provides a charming take on 'perfect love'
It is a story that navigates love when one is differently-abled - even exploring themes such as intimacy and date ideas such as bowling
Spoilers for 'Christmas Ever After'
Tony winner Ali Stroker played the role of Izzi Simmons, a fiercely talented romance novel writer that spends her holidays at a bed and breakfast she loves so much. Unfortunately, Christmas seems a bit gloomy because she has a deadline coming up and has a case of writer's block to make the situation worse. But, come on, this is a holiday movie we're talking about, if we don't expect a charming man to become a muse, then we're fans of the wrong genre. Lucky for Izzi, she meets the bed and breakfast's new owner Matt played by Daniel di Tomasso.
This is a delightful holiday rom-com that sees Izzi find Matt to look like one of the fictional characters she conjured up in her novel. It is a force when it comes to representation, as according to reports, Stroker made TV history as the first wheelchair user to star in a holiday movie. It pushes the stigma of being different, if differently able, to a corner of your mind that you wouldn't want to revisit. It is a story that navigates love when one is differently-abled - even exploring themes such as intimacy and date ideas such as bowling. This is not the first time that Stroker has brought important awareness to representation because according to reports, in 2019, the actress was the first performer in a wheelchair to be nominated or win a Tony Award. With her work on Deaf West's revival of 'Spring Awakening', she made history as the first actress that uses a wheelchair to perform on a Broadway stage.
"I was so thrilled to see disability wasn’t necessarily a part of the story. I believe that is progress. We don’t always need to talk about addressing a disability in a narrative. There can be a love story with somebody with a disability…that maybe doesn’t need to be explained," Stroker had told IndieWire. If you watch the movie, it is an essence of reality sprinkled with magic - it's normal, it doesn't stand out to be an a-woman-in-a-wheelchair-in love story, but just a love story with its own reality. It doesn't make the life of a wheelchair user a struggle, and that was probably its most prestigious whims - Simmons is presented (and is) a confident, ambitious and independent woman which is something many like her in the real world will relate to. As Stroker said, a disability doesn't have to be explained.
The movie is a warm, inviting, and wholesome toast to holiday movies - the bed and breakfast, along with the Christmas decor, will make you want Christmas here asap. It's definitely a movie you'd want to watch more than once and watch with family at that - it's special, it makes a difference, it relates to so many that are differently-abled and it's about love. There are all your reasons to watch it.
Lifetime has a lineup of Christmas movies releases, make sure you catch their countdown of amazing new releases just in time for cozy, socially distanced holidays.
'Christmas Ever After' premiered on December 6, 2020, at 8/7c on Lifetime