A Christmas Prince (dir Alex Zamm, 2017)
This week's One-Star Wonder blog post is my review of A Christmas Prince, one of my favourite movies of the last five years and therefore a true guilty pleasure.
It won't surprise you to hear after reading the review that follows that my teenage daughter recommended it after all her friends had seen it and were raving about it.
A Christmas Prince and its sequels are American romantic comedies. The film is set in the fictional European kingdom of Aldovia and filmed on location in Romania. Aldovia reminds me of a broadly Germanic/Swiss culture, albeit the kingdom is supposed to be a tiny one by comparison with its larger neighbours. This could almost be Liechtenstein.
Although most of the action takes place in Aldovia, the film opens in New York with budding journalist Amber Moore (Rose McIver) given an assignment to travel to Europe and cover a speech by Prince Richard (Ben Lamb), who is about to take over the throne a year after his father died.
In the meantime, Queen Helena (Alice Krige) has been holding the fort. The speech is postponed and most journalists head right back to the airport, but Amber is determined to get her scoop and gains entry to the royal inner circle by pretending to be the new American tutor for Richard's younger sister, Princess Emily.
With two unlikely characters (Amber and Richard) brought together in a way that was entirely credible (if you suspend disbelief over the lack of security to determine that the young woman who turns up unannounced two weeks early really is the new tutor), the film moved on to the magic of watching Amber and Richard fall in love.
It's the run up to Christmas, he's trying to put his playboy ways behind him and she's struggling to balance her heart with her journalistic assignment. For a film that's intended to be heartwarming from start to finish, that's precisely the right amount of dramatic tension.
The location filming for A Christmas Prince was amazing. I've been to Peles Castle and to Bucharest where some of the other scenes were filmed so I know what an incredibly beautiful country Romania is.
The castle looked magical in the snow, and the interior scenes representing the royal family's home were very striking cinematographically. The not-yet-royal-couple ride out in the snow to a lovely log cabin as part of the plot to investigate Richard's heritage. The woodland scenery was lovely.
I'd never seen Rose McIver before nor Ben Lamb but I've long been a fan of Alice Krige, and the young actress who plays Princess Emily (Honor Kneafsey) is hilarious. I saw her in an episode of the British sitcom Friday Night Dinner where she was hysterically funny. Kneafsey brings precisely the right mix of endearing cheekiness to the role of Emily, and she was my favourite character. All the main actors put in solid performances, and McIver was very smart and funny.
Amber's relationship with Princess Emily was central to the film. A Christmas Prince featured two people falling in love, but it was really about the growing friendship between Amber and the young girl she pretends to tutor and then becomes buddies with. Along with the voice of authority presented by Alice Krige, A Christmas Prince was really about women of different ages and backgrounds and their interactions with each other in order to obtain their hopes and dreams from life.
I leapt into A Christmas Prince regardless the fact that it is a saccharine rom-com about a young woman who falls in love with a prince and might become a princess one day. I enjoyed it because of that fact and accepted it for a good example of its particular subgenre of the rom com: ordinary girl meets prince and falls in love. It would have been Christmas Bah-Humbug not to get into the spirit of the film and I did.
I simply loved A Christmas Prince for its one-liners, its characters and its feel good family focus. The fact that I downed a bottle of white wine didn't hurt either.
Everyone involved in this film worked incredibly hard to earn that coveted one-star from John C Adams Reviews. Well done, guys, you're the best!
See you on Friday for the last in this week-long Christmas-themed special. In the meantime, the comments section is open.
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If you fancy something different, you might like to take a chance on my article about how old sins cast long shadows in the fantasy fiction of David Gemmell here.