Dan Stevens plays novelist Charles Dickens. A literary sensation in his time, his readership hangs on the outcome of his next book – and so does his bank balance. With only six weeks to write it, the normally productive Dickens is tormented by the barbs of his critics and taunted by characters vying for inclusion in next novel. – Will he make it in time?
…comes with all stylistic trappings you might expect.
As a period drama, ‘Charles Dickens – The Man Who Invented Christmas’ comes with all stylistic trappings you might expect: sumptuous production design, a bevy of British acting talent, all of whom are done up in costume and richly applied make-up. In this respect, and aimed directly at a Christmas market, it doesn’t disappoint. However whereas similarly literary biopic ‘Shakespeare in Love’ blended levity and wit to surreal effect, the same cannot said here. Like Dickens’s novellas, the mood is depressingly dark, focussing on poverty, injustice and the unforgiving fall into the work house that awaits those at the bottom end of society.
Ably supported by Christopher Plummer as both muse and ghostly inspiration, Dan Stevens’s Dickens flits between joy, rage and a self-pity that borders on the theatrical. Maybe that’s the point in a film whose hues are as ripe as the unfinished novella that the narrative gradually steers us to.
As a slightly surreal film, that plays with both drama and the audience’s familiarity for Dicken’s back catalogue, ‘Charles Dickens – The ManWho Invented Christmas’ is suitably well-made fare. Whilst it lacks the wit and verve of the aforementioned Shakespearian biopic, it is a Christmas chocolate box movie that will reward Dicken’s fans around the yuletide season for many years to come.