The Sweetest Gift (1998) starring Helen Shaver, Diahann Carroll, Marcia Bennett, Bernard Browne, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Marium Carvell, Tony Craig, Marc Donato, Kristin Fairlie directed by Stuart Margolin Movie Review

The Sweetest Gift (1998)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Diahann Carroll in The Sweetest Gift (1998)

Life's Gift

For the Martin family life is hard since Mr. Martin left as it means Mrs. Martin (Helen Shaver) works 7 days a week just so they can hold on to their farm and her children have to pretty much fend for themselves. The next door neighbours the Wilson family are just as hard working except they are a black family and local custom dictates that whites and blacks do not mix. That is until one day the Martin's goat walks into the Wilson's farm and it leads to the children becoming friends. It makes things awkward for Mrs. Martin as she has history with Mrs. Wilson (Diahann Carroll) and her daughter Ruby (Tisha Campbell-Martin).

"The Sweetest Gift" is one of those movies which are drenched in charm as we see racial barriers broken down thanks to the innocence of children and a mother who has wisdom and understanding to see the bigger picture. In more recent terms it made me think of "Christmas in Canaan", the difference being is that this is a movie set in South Florida and we get some drama involving gators.

Tisha Campbell-Martin in The Sweetest Gift (1998)

The thing is that from the minute the Martin children walk on to the Wilson farm to be met with motherly warmth by Mrs. Wilson you can guess how this will play out. And so instead of being a movie about the outcome it becomes all about the individual little episodes as those barriers come down and friendships are formed. Which of course means there are plenty of lessons to be learned for young audiences who get to watch this.

A big reason why this works is down to the casting with every single character bringing old fashioned warmth and charm to their roles. That is especially the case when it comes to Diahann Carroll who brings so much motherly warmth to the role of Mrs. Wilson that it is hard not to love her. But in a different way Tisha Campbell-Martin achieves the same as her daughter Ruby.

What this all boils down to is that "The Sweetest Gift" is a movie awash with simple good hearted charm as we see the racial barriers come down thanks to the innocent of youth, whilst also dealing with issues of pride and disability at the same time. There are a lot of movies which are similar and this whilst no better is the equal of many.