‘Tis the season for Christmas movies. Yep, that means I get to snuggle up on the couch to watch the latest holiday rom-com flicks. I even have a cozy hoodie that says: “I Just Want To Drink Hot Chocolate & Watch Christmas Movies.” So, when I heard that Brooke Shields was starring in a new Netflix Christmas movie, I was thrilled. I was even more enamored when I saw that it has the feel of Under the Tuscan Sun.
A Castle for Christmas reminds me of lots of the Netflix Christmas movies I’ve seen over the years. I was drawn to Sophie Brown (Brooke Shields), a bestselling author who goes ballistic on a live-TV interview. Who wouldn’t go a little crazy after a year of heartbreak, divorce, and controversy? Her fans are now her biggest critics because she just killed off the hero and main love interest from her series of novels, but she’s NOT sorry about it.
To escape from it all, Sophie takes off to Scotland, ostensibly as a research trip to gather new material for her next book. Her novel is already overdue, and she’s hoping to be inspired by the land and castle where her grandfather grew up. She’s still experiencing writer’s block as she tours the castle and meets the crotchety “old” man, Myles, the Duke of Dunbar (Cary Elwes).
Yes, you’ll find the makings of the classic rom-com Christmas movie, but there’s nostalgia there as well, since Cary Elwes is the guy who played Wesley in A Princess Bride. You might remember that, in that movie, Buttercup was looking to escape her life, too. She thought she’d lost the love of her life and that she was better off dead.
While Sophie isn’t suicidal, she’s seen better days. She’s at a loss of how to fix her life. She’s angry, still hurt, and trying to come to terms with how all her angst flooded over that last novel. She’s done with her hero and she wants to move on, but she’s stuck. She doesn’t know how to see herself, who she is, or what she wants without that label: writer.
I know, I know. Some critics act like A Castle for Christmas is too predictable, in keeping with the Hallmark or Lifetime movies. Sure, it’s formulaic, as expected, but it also has those wonderful feel-good moments. Shields says, “We know what the stories are. We know what’s going to happen, and still I’m as invested. I cry where the moments are to cry. I laugh. I get choked up.”
There are also moments that could be compared with Home Alone or any of the other comic feel-good holiday flicks we all know and love. She’s signed on for the 90-day escrow. So, she’s on the hook for an old drafty castle in need of serious repair. And she’s got an unavoidable roommate: the Duke, who tries to make her life so miserable that she won’t close on the castle.
Yes, it’s a nostalgic piece. Who wouldn’t be reminded of how the “Dread Pirate Roberts” in A Princess Bride shed off his cruel personae when Buttercup realized who he really was? Still, the move stands on its own. It comes alive with dancing and singing, with a community of actors/townspeople who appear to genuinely enjoy being together, helping each other heal.
My Scottish MIL and I almost wet ourselves laughing through A CASTLE FOR CHRISTMAS. You need a LOT of Scotch for this film.
The accents, the geography, the short kilts, etc. – I don’t think any real Scots were involved in the production. The dog, however, gets full marks. pic.twitter.com/Thb7dJbkjW
— Pamela Klinger-Horn (@pkhorn) December 2, 2021
Sophie is picking up the pieces, little by little. Her daughter tells her via a video call, “I haven’t seen you smile like this in a really long time.” She has worked her whole life to become that big-name author, but she’s like a moth drawn to a flame, surrounded by new friends and a new life that finally begins to feel more at home than ever before.
I admit, I’m getting a bit sappy, but there’s another reason I enjoyed this movie. As Shields explains, “They really are trying to take this section of Netflix and really think about women over a certain age — women who are in my generation. They’re not about women needing to be saved.”
So far, so good.
— Cary Elwes (@Cary_Elwes) December 1, 2021
What are your thoughts about Brooke Shields and her new Christmas movie? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Want More Feel-Good Holiday Vibes? Check These Out: