As N and I watch just about every Hallmark Christmas movie each year, and as I have mixed feelings about this, about the entertainment quality of this, and about the point of it, I figured one way to make this mindless watching feel less mindless would be to live blog each one. I’ve started this series late, about 6 movies in, but I’ve started it.
Look, I just did one of these last night (we’ve got at least 7 more to watch), so I’m going to keep this one short. And probably boring. Already after just 10 minutes The Christmas Bow is impressing the hate out of me. It stars a Korean-American woman I like a lot because she has a total lack of cloyingness when she talks to the Nephew of the Man and also because IRL the actor debuted as a violin soloist with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra at age 5, and no instrument is better in every setting than the violin.
The Woman, then, is a violinist in this movie, too, but get this, she also runs a music shop, with her father, in Boulder. If you, too, are remembering a movie about a father-daughter music shop in Denver, join me in wondering how much the Colorado Tourism Board paid Hallmark to get its official Xmas state changed from Vermont. The Woman auditioned earlier for the Rocky Mountain Philharmonic. Plus one of the Women from an earlier movie was a professional pianist. And I think there’s another I Want To Go Be Famous In Nashville movies coming up to watch, a movie my sister couldn’t finish and I imagine we’ll have a hard time of it as well. So, Hallmark’s cure for 2020 = music performance.
Now she’s singing with a duo in the Boulder Christmas Market, and she’s not a soprano? I’m liking her more and more.
The Man’s mom has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease that has recently required her to use a wheelchair (oh and how the Man is with the Woman is that he’s her physical therapist after some white cellist slammed the Woman’s fingers in a doorjamb at an audition). Plus, the Woman parents are of two races, as are her grandparents.
Bitch all you (and I) want about Hallmark’s innate conservatism, and for sure the unproblematized acknowledgement that differently abled bodies exist and that mixed-race couples exist shouldn’t be a progressive political position, but it is, particularly in 2020. I know: representation matters also because of how it turns into $$$ for large corporations gunning for mass appeal, but even through my cynicism I can see how more stories about more of us can only help usher in a better future.
No, it doesn’t help that none of these white Boulderians are asking the Woman, even warmly, things like, What’s your ethnic background?, or other such microaggressions white folks still see as reasons to be offended for its own sake. Marginalized folks are allowed inside the Hallmark Cinematic Universe, but their experience is never any different from anybody else’s. Denial isn’t exactly engagement, but—
Oh shit! I almost missed the Almost Kiss interrupted by the proud and needy Nephew! It happened on a Christmas Train!
The only things you need to know about the Man is that he’s a momma’s boy, he’s hoping to hear soon from “Hands and Hearts Abroad” which is the HCU’s answer to Doctors Without Borders, and he looks pretty good walking away in a pair of jeans.
Now, in a flashback, we’re watching the Woman’s demented grandmother, just a few years before her death, come alive once the Woman starts playing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” in tears next to her on the sofa. She’s singing along, the grandmom, and smiling. There’s something very satisfying about how this movie’s writers understand how basic but real the everyday challenges of being alive in this world are, and the wide varieties of what families look like and with what they can struggle.
One neat thing about this movie is how disinterested it’s been so far in Boulder. Sure, she sang at their Xmas market, but the town isn’t figuring much as a place. The focus is on the families. But what results is a lack of Hallmark Town Events, like a gingerbread contest (which formed the middle of nearly every movie last year) or a tree lighting ceremony. The Woman’s granddad has suggested they rekindle the music store’s annual Xmas party, so we’ve got our big party, but—
Oh shit! The Nephew just asked the Woman is she was going to the gingerbread house-making party at the Man’s house. Okay damn, this movie is like Tracy Flick in all its overachieving. They’re really using that Nephew to toss out all the curveballs.
The All Is Lost moment has come when the Man tells the Woman he got the Doctors without Borders job, and the Woman is unsure whether her fingers are fully healed to play for the Xmas party, and also now thinks that the specialness between them she’s been feeling isn’t being felt by the Man, whereas it’s actually the case that the Man assumes that since the Woman’s fingers are healed she’s going to leave town to continue touring as she used to, and so is taking the job because he has nothing else holding him in Boulder. Standard O Henry stuff. Probably the Man is going to have to bear his heart and she’s going to get the Rocky Mountain Philharmonic job. Let’s wait and see….
And for the record, I’m sad that I noticed this too. From IMDB:
Final grade: A