Told from the Heart
Rushed off her feet with her business Megan Walsh (Candace Cameron Bure) reluctantly takes her children out trick or treating only to come across a house decorating for Christmas. Puzzled by why on October 31st they would already be preparing for Christmas Megan inquires and is handed a card with a website address on it for more information. Back home and still curious of why she takes a look at the site which is a blog by Julie Locke (Jeanne Neilson) a mother whose 3 year old son Dax was diagnosed with Leukaemia. Moved by what she reads she learns all about what Julie, Dax and their family have gone through and how they became part of the community at St. Jude's children's hospital.
"The Heart of Christmas" is a very powerful movie because it tells a very powerful story, one which is based on a true story. But at the same time "The Heart of Christmas" is not a great movie, it does not have the greatest acting, it has some very saccharine scenes and for those who only like cliche, fun Christmas movies may find it a struggle. I say that in fairness to those who arrive here wanting information on "The Heart of Christmas" as whilst this story moved me like so few movies can truly do I can't ignore the issues.
Now I don't know the true story of Dax on which this is based, I'm in the UK and if I was to be honest this is a very American movie which highlights many things, one of which is the work of the St. Jude's hospital. But whilst it is an American story it is also a universal one as we are taken on a journey of what happens when a young child is diagnosed with Leukaemia. We learn about the initial fear, the parental need to never leave that child's side, the sudden overwhelming amount of things to take in and a lot more. But we also learn about the community, the friendship and support from other parents who are going through the same thing. As I said "The Heart of Christmas" is very powerful and whilst it may sound a cliche it is an emotional rollercoaster which right from the word go hits you.
But this movie is also bigger thanks to the clever use of introducing the story to us through Megan. We watch how the story of Julie, Dax and Julie's husband Austin moves her, makes her reconsider her priorities and family. It is clever because whilst "The Heart of Christmas" is powerful for those who are going through a similar situation it is also powerful for those who if you like stumble across this movie.
So "The Heart of Christmas" moved me but as I said it is by no means perfect and some of the acting is not as good as it could be. I'm not naming names because to me it is obvious that "The Heart of Christmas" is not a big budget movie and so the calibre of the cast is not mainstream quality but some times the emotion just doesn't quite come across right. Then there is the religious side of the movie as it is a movie which features plenty of prayer and not in the most subtle of ways, it didn't bother me but I know it will bother others. And then there is the St. Jude hospital side and I have to bring this up as I have read in some places that "The Heart of Christmas" came across like an infomercial for the hospital, I disagree. This is a movie which tells a personal but also universal story and in doing so highlights the work of the hospital and what the staff do and if that makes people aware of this place then to me that's a good thing.
What this all boils down to is that "The Heart of Christmas" is not the greatest movie ever made, it is not the best acted movie you will ever watch and to be honest it isn't a movie for everyone. But it is one of the most moving movies I have watched and a movie which will make you think about your own life and put it into perspective.