‘Christmas in My Heart’ is a moody tearjerker from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries that premiered on October 23. It stars Heather Hemmens, Luke Macfarlane, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Matia Nash and Larry Day, among many others.
The story is basically about a famous country singer who is a widower and a single father as he navigates raising his biracial daughter, a promising violin player with the help of his mother-in-law and his daughter’s teacher in his late wife’s hometown.
Despite having a downsized cast, ‘Christmas in My Heart’ manages to create the illusion of a loving, tight-knit community in the Charleston area in West Virginia. All the characters crafted in the narrative contribute to the story’s development and the advancement of its themes.
When someone initially watches this feature, they are bound to expect that Beth played by Hemmens and Sean, a role by Macfarlane, would be over the top with stereotypes of country and classical music. Fortunately, the discussion between the two regarding the two different genres was quite captivating and highly resonating. The way they dissect each other’s genre isn’t exaggerated, and the manner in which they appreciate and respect the differences in their specific interests directly translate to the mutual developing admiration they have for each other.
Hallmark tends to feed on the aspect of making movies that feature widowed parents, especially during the Christmas festive season. Unlike other projects, audiences have seen in the past, though, the plot for this title is a bit spiced up thanks to being meticulous with the details.
The performances were superb. Katie, for instance, played by Maria Nash, stole the spotlight in the movie. One of the most notable performances is when we first meet her. In this scene, Katie is helping her dad repair a car while exhibiting a whole dump of loveable sass at the same time. Both actors’ dialogue and performances are astounding and make this moment and subsequent others in the garage feel incredibly genuine with tons of authenticity.
One quite funny and emotional scene in the movie is the heartwarming gesture Sean extends to Beth. The former serenades the latter with a new song. There is no doubt that Beth is touched and is in awe of this beautiful performance. The bummer is, she goes ahead to critique the bridge, which is exemplarily hilarious.
Over the years, the Hallmark channel has made efforts to enhance its on-screen inclusivity and diversion. So far, plenty of actors from Latinx and Asian communities have been cast for the production’s projects which is a significant step. However, the Black culture has been a bit ignored when it comes to the diversity aspect. Thankfully, that issue is coming to an end as well as ‘Christmas in My Heart’ transcended the previous Black representations resulting in one of the best movies of all time from the channel that isn’t part of Hallmark Hall of Fame.
It is an impressive move when it comes to handling issues of different races and cultures mingling and living with each other without tensions. Having a biracial child of the main character sets up an amazing surprisingly not boxed into the usual tropes of Hallmark content scene. In this instance, Ruthie, played by Sheryl Lee Ralph, explains that she enjoys her hair bonding moments with Katie and advises Sean to have a conversation with his daughter regarding her insecurity when it comes to looking different rather than letting the idea from her classmates wanting her to straighten her curls get into her head. This marks the first time the channel has had a character discuss racial prejudice since ‘The Magic of Ordinary days’ back in 2005 shone a spotlight on the incarceration of Japanese Americans.
This kind of talk makes the bond between Katie and Beth stronger as the youngster realizes that someone who looks like her can actually be successful in stuff that other people or society doesn’t think they can excel in. It is quite an emotional moment when Katie shows her excitement to Beth and opens up about her mom for the first time. They both bond as they have a lot in common, from being Black classical artists to being biracial and their livelihoods taking a drastic turn after they both lose their moms almost during the same time.
Looking back at the history of Christmas, it began as a religious holiday, and, oddly, churches are generally absent in the Christmas movies made by Hallmark in recent years. For Black communities, gospel music is a crucial thing that is loudly missing in this movie.
Sheryl Lee Ralph is excellent though audiences didn’t get to see a lot of her. She does bring the same intensity as Heather Hemmens, and it is pretty admirable seeing three generations of Black women forge their stories together into such a fantastic breathtaking movie.
There is no doubt that Luke Macfarlane is a great actor who has done various accents during his career. However, his southern accent in this feature was a bit rugged. There are instances when he sounds spot on and others when he’s trying too hard to the extent that it sounds over the top, and sometimes, he completely forgets that he is supposed to have an accent at all. This yoyoing of accent makes his dialogue performance a bit all over the place.
Though the overall look of ‘Christmas in My Heart’ is excellently coined from the dialogue to the beautiful music, the expertly edited sound, the amazingly cut shots, and the gorgeous visuals, the abrupt change of music at the very end is entirely unexpected. It doesn’t blend very well with the rest of the film.
‘Christmas In My Heart’ is melancholic with the feeling of hope in its underbelly. The script is thoughtfully written, addressing crucial race issues which flow naturally without sounding like a lecture. The acting pumps a load of life into the writing, the directing is executed to perfection, and everything ties in nicely. This movie is an absolute must-watch.