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Silent Night Reviews

Based on a true story, this sobering WWII-era story brings together Nazi soldiers and American GIs for a Christmas cease fire. To escape the bombing of her village, a German officer’s wife, Elizabeth Vincken (Linda Hamilton), moves her son, Fritz (Matthew Harbour), to her husband's hunting cabin in the woods. Although the property lies close to the Allied lines, Elizabeth believes they can wait out the war here. Instead, Elizabeth and Fritz face a mini-American invasion: Jimmy (Romano Orzari), Ralph (Al Goulem) and their wounded comrade, Herbie (Michael Elkin), make their way to Vincken cabin on Christmas Eve. The atmosphere is tense, but the gutsy Elizabeth hides the Yankee soldiers' weapons and sets some ground rules for behavior. Elizabeth’s no-rifles-in-the-house dictum is severely tested when three German soldiers appear at the door. Mueller (Mark Antony Krupa) and Peter (Cassian Bopp) accept Elizabeth's hospitality with gratitude, but their leader, Klosterman (Martin Neufeld), denounces her as a collaborator. Elizabeth nonetheless rounds up rations and cooks a feast for her warring guests. The rival soldiers set aside their differences; Carols are sung and confidences are exchanged. Klosterman finds it difficult to accept the holiday detente, because he's still mourning the loss of his brother, whose corpse was stripped of its war medals on the battlefield. Just as he's coming around, another military visitor bursts in. Dietrich (James McGowan) claims to be an American MP, but he could be an English-speaking impostor serving the Reich. Can Elizabeth keep the peace after Dietrich shifts the balance of power to one side? Unlike so many bland seasonal presentations, this fact-based made-for-TV film boasts an intelligent screenplay by Roger Aylward, whose complexities and dramatic ambiguity director Rodney Gibbons handles with aplomb, abetted by a superb cast.