'Reunited at Christmas' review: A feel-good holiday film that packs all the elements needed to get you in the Christmas spirit
Starring Nikki DeLoach as Samantha Murphy, the film looks at how family and traditions form the core of celebrating Christmas
The holiday season is incomplete without several networks releasing a string of Christmas-themed films. 'Reunited at Christmas' is one such offering by the Hallmark Channel that packs all the essential elements that are guaranteed to tug at audience's heartstrings and get them in the Christmas spirit. Starring Nikki DeLoach as the protagonist Samantha Murphy, the film follows Samantha as she returns to her grandmother's home to celebrate Christmas with her family and boyfriend.
Sam's grandmother, who passes away, finds a way to reunite the family at her home by sending out scheduled invitations to them after her death. When her grandmother was alive, Samantha and her family would spend Christmas together at her home, but after her passing, there is an evident distance that has developed between the family members.
The love shared by a family, despite being separated by distance and internal conflict is what lies at the core of the film. Samantha is an up-and-coming author who lives in New York City with her ever-supportive boyfriend Simon played by Mark Faiola. She's struggling with writer's block as she's commissioned to write a Christmas themed book and the festival, to her has never quite felt the same after the death of her grandmother. Her parents are divorced and she's apprehensive about the reunion at her childhood home, but once the family comes together, over the course of the film, everything falls neatly into place.
"Traditions are the stories that families tell together" is what Sam remembers her grandmother telling her when she was little, and 'Reunited at Christmas' spends the entirety of its 90-minute duration going out of the way to reaffirm this statement. Sam has a special bond with her grandmother and she tries hard to honor her memory by ensuring her family ticks off all the boxes on their 'Christmas tradition list'.
There's an upbeat Christmas-themed soundtrack that accompanies nearly every frame of the film. The cinematography is extremely effective in creating a very Christmassy vibe. The snow and the holiday decorations in most scenes along with the recurring theme of the ability of Christmas to bring loved ones together make the film quintessential for a family viewing.
The plot is simple, it checks off all the boxes for the traditional 'feel-good' film. Just the way romantic comedies comfort you with their familiarity, a film like 'Reunited At Christmas' with its fair share of romance and drama keeps viewers engaged despite an expected outcome. There are several emotional moments throughout the film that help establish the characters and their background. The events are predictable, the characters are bordering on being a little too sweet and supportive of each other, but nonetheless, the heart of the film is in the right place.
Apart from Samantha's slightly complex relationship with her fiancé owing to her commitment issues, the other couple in focus is her divorced parents. The plot allows them enough time and space to understand how important they are to each other despite the differences that tore them apart in the first place. There's a whole lot of reminiscing in the film and, at different points, each character shares childhood memories associated with Christmas.
Samantha and her sister Annie (played by Lisa Durupt) constantly remind the audience of their dead grandmother and the lasting impact she has on their family.
While the family has drifted apart because of where life has taken them, their grandmother has found a way to make them realize how much they mean to each other. The film relies on a lot of cliché’s but given the framework it’s operating in, you can’t help but enjoy the family and their silly conversations about Christmas scrapbooks, decorating trees and baking gingerbread cookies together.
Nikki DeLoach and Lisa Durupt are particularly good at portraying their largely one-dimensional characters. They do it with a commitment that makes their characters believable with the ability to strike a chord with the viewer.
Sam's reluctance when it comes to committing to her relationship would possibly resonate with any woman who has had to deal with the emotional baggage of a past relationship impacting her current one. The rest of the cast does their best to do justice to their characters who are essentially trying to recreate Christmas memories in the absence of a loved one.
In its entirety, the film is a wholesome Christmas experience with a single family and their unbreakable bond as its focus. The overall tone and mood of the film are designed to make the viewer understand the true meaning of Christmas which is being able to spend time with your near and dear ones and honor your family's long-standing traditions. Samantha discovers a new dimension to herself by the end of the film and is able to deliver an important message to the audience — taking a leap of faith always pays off. If you're looking for a film to get you in the mood for Christmas then look no further than 'Reunited At Christmas' that will air on November 21 on the Hallmark Channel.
Here's the trailer of the film: