The Christmas season beckons a new assortment of Netflix rom-com holiday movies. While they may not be cinematic masterpieces, I do force myself to watch at least one a year, so there must be some spark there. After simply popping up in “New & Popular” on my Netflix browser, I chose the newly released A Castle for Christmas as my movie for this holiday season. This stress-free movie was a pleasant, holiday-themed break amidst my studying for finals.
A Castle for Christmas tells the story of bestselling author Sophie, played by Brooke Shields, who journeys to Scotland to see the castle Dun Dunbar. Let me start with the film’s beginning, in which Sophie’s premise for going to Scotland is established –– she has become utterly canceled for killing off the man in her book series (her actions were motivated by her recent divorce). This seems like a strange reason for all the book readers in the U.S. to cancel someone, but I credit this to Netflix’s repeated exaggerations.
Once in Scotland, Sophie immediately acts as a typical tourist, smiling and nodding to everyone she sees. She brings just one gray suitcase that is supposed to fit all her belongings, which seems hard to believe because she stays in Scotland for months. Soon after she arrives, viewers get the cliché moment where a woman trips and falls into a man and makes somewhat uncomfortable eye contact as they stand face to face. You guessed it –– here we met love interest Myles, the castle’s owner and Scottish duke, played by none other than Cary Elwes. It all starts to feel very “Hallmark” from here, which is not always a bad characteristic.
The Scottish town is the quintessential, charming small town. The people welcome Sophie with open arms and applaud her books. Furthermore, I found myself drawn to the random parts of the film where the people emphasized their love for yarn. Women are shown sprucing up the town by “yarn bombing,” where they put up multicolored balls of yarn and knitted yarn onto objects in town. It felt a bit forced, but I did get excited whenever I saw yarn on the screen, which I never thought I would hear myself say.
The rom-com continues to show Sophie asking to buy the castle from Myles, who switches abruptly from his first lock-eye moment with Sophie to a crabby man. I’ll choose to ignore the casualness of Sophie buying a castle without much thought. Myles sells the castle to Sophie since he needs the money. However, he does not think Sophie will treat the castle with respect and they strike a deal that they will live simultaneously in the castle at the beginning so he can show her the ropes. Their relationship and chemistry turn on and off as Myles appears to have quite the temper. I found both their supposed sweet moments and fights to be unrealistic and lacking depth, as when Myles would abruptly strike a fight, Sophie would get mad for a second and then just a bit later everything would be fine with hardly any resolving.
One feel-good moment I enjoyed was when Sophie and Myles take a car ride through the countryside. You see Shields and Elwes widely smile out of the windows of the car as they appreciate the scenery. It was again a very stereotypical moment where a serene song plays in the background, characters connect and a calming landscape is displayed, but it nonetheless had that holiday movie charm to put you in a good mood.
The film continues with their relationship fostering in the castle. Myles emits Scottish charm, like his frequent use of “Eejit” to say idiot. And don’t forget this is a Christmas movie — you get to see the castle decked out in Christmas lights and decor, as well as a classic town-gathering holiday party.
A Castle for Christmas is the highly stereotypical Netflix rom-com with a predictable plot, unrealistic acting and difficult plot points. Yet, there is a calming feeling to watching a movie with no huge surprises as a way to put you into a cozy and charming winter feeling, while simultaneously allowing you to make fun of it.
Gillian Lee is a freshman in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at [email protected].