Tom Berenger in The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (2007)

Carving Out Christmas

When his father was killed in action young Thomas (Luke Ward-Wilkinson) was not only left broken hearted but his life was turned upside down as his mum Susan McDowell (Joely Richardson) has to sell their city home as they can no longer afford to live there and so they up sticks to the country. To make matters worse a treasured wooden nativity scene which Thomas's father had given him ends up getting lost which leaves him even more upset. It is why his mum speaks to Jonathan Toomey (Tom Berenger), a wood carver known for being a gloomy, unapproachable man, and pays him to build Thomas a replacement nativity scene. With Jonathan allowing Thomas to observe his work the two end up bonding as not only does Jonathan help Thomas deal with his grief and loneliness but Thomas ends up causing a change in Jonathan.

"The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey" is one of those movies where you might have never watched it before yet you watch with an assured sense of familiarity with it. And there is a simple reason for this; the theme of a lonely boy and a grouchy, hermit of a man bonding and ending up being the answer to each others troubles is not a new one. As such you know that both Jonathan and Thomas will be the change in each other's lives with Jonathan getting over the pain which makes him unapproachable through becoming a father figure for Thomas whilst the friendship Thomas forms with Jonathan helps him get over the sadness which grips his life.

Joely Richardson in The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (2007)

The thing is that despite this familiarity there is something about "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey" which keeps drawing you in. And that thing can be summed up by saying it delivers an idealised version of life. We have characters who are so well defined and so pleasant that they are not real yet you warm to them partly because of this. There is also the wholesomeness of the story which again is not real yet it is so touching and feel good that you don't mind.

Then there is the look and what we have in "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey" is something which takes me back to the 50s and 60s when you would have these wonderful sets built on sound stages be it woods or small villages. For some the falseness of the look will be off putting but for me it is what contributes to the movie's rather surprising charm and helps it to stand out from the crowd and to be frank helps it to become memorable.

What this all boils down to is that "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey" is for me a surprisingly engaging and enjoyable movie with a wholesomeness you rarely see these days. It also has a look which you definitely rarely get to see and that along with the good acting makes it memorable and charming.

Tags: Christmas Movies