Cross-cutting between two tales of dysfunctional grandfather-grandson relationships, A CHRISTMAS REUNION is an ambitious piece of yuletide sentimentality. But so much effort is expended in unfolding the plot-heavy flashback sequences that this would-be holiday classic crumbles under the
weight of its overstuffed aspirations.
Orphaned Jimmy (Gweryd Gwyndaf) is teased by his classmates and neglected by his taskmaster grandfather (Edward Woodward). Jimmy runs away and meets an Irish Santa Claus (James Coburn) who regales him with a story of events that unfolded 50 years earlier, but which have curious parallels to the
child's predicament. Widowed Sarah Boswell (Penelope Michaels), a gypsy, is pregnant by her late husband, an aristrocrat whose father, Colonel Phillips (Edward Woodward), believes the child is illegitimate and refuses to support her. Returning to her gypsy clan, Sarah dies in childbirth. Her baby,
along with his gypsy grandpa Alf (Meredith Edwards), is banished as a pariah.
Growing up in the Romany way, Tim Boswell (Gweryd Gwyndaf) is ostracized by two societies. When Alf dies, Tim roams the countryside with his horse and foal until he's befriended by Mrs. Evans (Melanie Walters) and her two children. Meanwhile, Colonel Phillips wants the gypsy boy run out of town
before his noble background can surface. Even more determined to send Tim packing is the Colonel's nephew, Rodney Lankton (Geraint Morgan), who wants to steal Tim's share of the inheritance. Rodney learns that Sarah and the Colonel's son were legally married and that Tim is therefore the
legitimate heir, but he keeps the knowledge from the Colonel. Stealing Tim's horses, Rodney lures the boy into a stable, which he sets on fire. The servants manage to douse the flames, and Tim flees to the woods pursued by Rodney, who intends to beat the lad to death. After the Evans children
persuade the Colonel of Tim's legitimacy, he searches for the boy and rescues him from Rodney. But the gypsy boy disdains his inheritance and rides proudly off into the sunset. In the present, drawn closer by this teary saga, Jimmy and his gramps experience rapprochement in time for Christmas.
Plagued by inferior sound recording and a lackluster music score, A CHRISTMAS REUNION could have used a little filmic panache, or at least some keener editing. This tepid picture never fully engages our sympathies; it's passionless both in acting and mise-en-scene. For a children's film, it's
much too heavy on plot, cramming its tear-jerking flashbacks with enough narrative for half a dozen Victorian melodramas. The acting is generally perfunctory, and dough-faced Gwyndaf isn't up to the challenge of one lead role, let alone two. Needlessly protracted and slow-moving, this failed
holiday heartwarmer is too convoluted for kids, too unimaginative for adults. (Violence.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: Cross-cutting between two tales of dysfunctional grandfather-grandson relationships, A CHRISTMAS REUNION is an ambitious piece of yuletide sentimentality. But so much effort is expended in unfolding the plot-heavy flashback sequences that this would-be hol… (more)