The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (1997)
A humane, heart-warming Christmas movie – without a trace of commercialism. I thought that type of film would be hard to find. Yet this season The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey is the second such flick that I stumbled upon (the first was the Norwegian film Christmas Story, which I recently reviewed on this site). Based on a novel by the children's author Susan Wojciechowski, the movie tells the story of a young boy named Thomas who struggles to come to terms with the demise of his father. Upon his father's death, Thomas and his mother are forced to move from their aristocratic family home in the city to the farmhouse of Thomas's aunt, located in a small village in the countryside of England.
To bring a little past into their present, Thomas's mother decides to ask a local woodcarver to create a replacement of the family's Nativity Scene, which was lost during their move. The woodcarver is an irritable recluse who has an intriguing role in the social life of the little village. It seems no one knows much about him, and the kids of the village fear his presence. At first, the woodcarver refuses the job but, after a lot of convincing, eventually agrees to do it and even allows the unthinkable - the presence of the boy and his mother at his house while he works on their request.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey is a Coming-of-Age film as evidenced by the genre traits present in its narrative (overcoming hardships while adjusting to new environments). The premise of the story is essentially love, understanding and acceptance seen through the prism of faith and goodness to oneself and others. Yet the film does not feel preachy and manages to keep one's attention for its entire duration.
I'm used to powerful endings, so I was a bit disappointed with the open ended finale of The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey. But, for some, that is the best way to conclude an inspirational, feel-good story.
The acting is a bit unusual. Director Bill Clark had the actors reciting their thoughts aloud while, on other occasions, they addressed the viewers directly in an almost theatrical manner. The young Luke Ward-Wilkinson, who plays in the role of Thomas, has a particular tenderness in his voice that makes his character appear all the more vulnerable. Yet it takes some time getting used to it (at first one may even feel slightly annoyed). It’s a personal observation, but I have to mention it as the actor's voice really made an impression on me. The rest of the child actors deliver good performances, which can't be said for most of the adults who left a lot to be desired.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey Trailer
The film is essentially a period piece as it's set in the first years after WWI. I truly enjoyed its visual appeal – the costumes, the props – typical for the era. Yet, while the production design was excellent, the usage of GGI (Computer Generated Imaginary) did not feel appropriate for a period film. The film's beauty lies in its story – and the visual effects did nothing to enhance it in an appealing way.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey will appeal mostly to adult audiences, despite the fact that it’s based on a children’s book. Yet, the story is family friendly so potentially the whole family may enjoy it.
Film title: The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
Also known as: Wunder einer Weihnachtsnacht ,Egy varázslatos karácsony
Release year: 2007
Director: Bill Clark
Cast: Luke Ward-Wilkinson, Tom Berenger,Richard Tyler ,James McDowell,Wallis Woodman and others