Billed as being the first Irish Christmas movie – there’s also something rather noteworthy about Richard Elson’s enchanting festive production – it’s the first feature to have derived from the Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival for Young People, a charity and initiative to help generate an intrigue into cinema amongst our next generation. 40 children were handpicked as trainee filmmakers to work on this project, which indicates that the future may be pretty bright – because this endeavour makes for a charming, congenial watch.
Much like Jesus Christ, Noelle O’Hanlon (Erin Galways-Kendrick) was born on the 25th of the December, in a nearby barn – when her parents Maria (Bronagh Waugh) and Joe (Richard Clements) were forced to stop for en emergency birth en route to the hospital. What the young girl also shares with JC – is that she is blessed with magical powers, with the ability to turn anger into happiness, merely by making eye contact with somebody in distress. Aside from her best friend Spud-Bob (James Stockdale), nobody believes in her capabilities – but she’s determined to prove everyone wrong by changing the perspective of the treacherous businessman Pat McKerrod (Rob James-Collier) who, without any sense of Christmas spirit, is hellbent on destroying the local town, to build a golf course and new property.
Set in Northern Ireland, the picture boasts a remarkable cast, as joining the aforementioned actors we have roles for Suranne Jones and Pierce Brosnan, while Liam Neeson narrates proceedings, with his distinctive, dulcet vocals, in a deadpan, and yet playful manner which captures the tone of the piece perfectly (while there are also a couple of impressive cameos to keep your eye out for). But the stars of the show are the youngsters Galways-Kendrick and Stockdale, though James-Collier should be commended for being truly detestable in the role of the chief antagonist, even if his accent is a little hard to define in this instance. A sort of Colin Murray/Clint Eastwood hybrid.
That being said, there are definitely flaws to this production, as we delve unwittingly into mawkish tendencies, while the production value isn’t of a particularly high standard. But nonetheless, there’s enough to admire here, particularly as we have a duty to be encouraging young people to get into cinema, and should celebrate this achievement accordingly. Not that we should ignore the faults that exist, but perhaps just thrive more so in the positive aspects – of which there are many.
Ultimately, A Christmas Star is an undemanding, well-meaning feature that makes for amiable, gentle experience that children should adhere to. Because this is very much one for the kids, with a blissfully elementary approach to the humour, and a picture book type story that’s easy to follow. This may end up being one that adults have a cheeky nap in, but after a sherry and Christmas pudding, that’s sort of inevitable anyway.