NOW STREAMING ON:
Age RatingPG
DirectorNanea Miyata
Runtime1h 25m
Release Date UK2018
SynopsisA soft-spoken woman is used to living in the shadow of her pop-star boyfriend, but when he breaks up with her right before the holiday season, she returns to her hometown to discover the heart and music that her big city life has been missing.

The Silver Hedgehog Rating: Average

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Christmas Harmony Film Review

I have a soft spot for the total cheese-fest genre that is the Christmas Movie.  You know the ones, dominated by Hallmark, and more recently perfected by Netflix.  So when Vision Films supplied a screener for 2018’s ‘Christmas Harmony’ how could I resist?

Written and directed by Nanea Miyata,  Christmas Harmony throws you into the world of Harmony (Kelley Jakle) and her big megastar singer boyfriend ‘Devin’ (Peter Porte).   Devin is so wrapped up in his own success that he doesn’t realise it is Harmony who has the real talent.  Frustrated with being overshadowed by Devin’s success and their argument over song ownership, Harmony retreats to her family home in the small town of Miracle. While visiting, she re connects with her father and unexpectedly finds love, or does she?

If you love watching budget Christmas films, then you know that they mostly follow the same basic plot structure: a couple seem deeply in love, man is horrid to girl, girl realises and breaks up with man.  She runs away, finds new love by accident, old love tries to make up and win his girl back, right at the end of the film girl makes the right choice.

Christmas Harmony follows this basic plot structure.  Interweaved with songs and subplots, Nanea Miyata tries to craft a heart-warming holiday story.  As Harmony settles back into Miracle life she gets coerced into producing the town’s annual Christmas concert, together with Luke, the town’s good guy and handyperson.  Luke has a lot going on with a young lad to look after, a plot point that comes into play later in the film.  These subplots feel well-crafted and help the film move forward.

Christmas Harmony is a romantic musical.  The film is full of well placed, original songs. They all sound well produced, but sadly not very memorable.  No ‘Love Actually’ style Christmas banger here, it’s all very jingly-jangly, and the songs are mostly a lot of fun. Just when things get a little too formulaic, Miyata hits the audience with  ‘Everything’s Missin but the mistletoe’ a jaunty, folky sing along Christmas tune that brings things back to the right side of entertaining.

It’s good to see that the original soundtrack is widely available on streaming, and that the actors actually sing the tracks – all 20 of them!

When not full of singing, Christmas Harmony has a score composed by Matthew Atticus Berger,  and what is surprising is how well he manages to interweave Jingle Bells into the score.

However it’s not all positive for this film, Christmas Harmony does have a couple of weaknesses. The first is it can get very talky, one scene with Luke and Harmony walking down the Miracle high street feels like it runs for hours and includes a lot of exposition. Thankfully this film is a musical so once everyone starts singing again, the walk is quickly forgotten,

The second is the treatment of Harmony and her relationship with Devin.  Devin shows up unannounced at her family home and pushes his way through the door (no one stops him?) and then forcibly engages her by placing a ring on her finger.  Harmony is given no opportunity to voice her opinion or fight back against this unwelcome intrusion.  When asked if she is engaged later, she responds by saying she doesn’t know, seemingly confused by the whole situation. If she has made the decision to leave her old life, has found a new love interest, would she let this his guy force himself upon her?  It’s a narrative choice that is designed to add a little peril, but I found it poorly thought through and presents outdated and troubling view of proposals. It feels out of sync with the rest of the film, as if it were hastily added during production or as an afterthought.  I would say the scene undermines Harmony’s newfound independent nature.

A strong point about the film is the casting choices. Casting by Jaime Gallagher and Sara Wallace. All the cast in the film appear to be fully on board, no one is phoning in their performance. Crucially everyone suits the roles given – great job. As ever, here are my key three…

Kelley Jakle as Harmony

Christmas Harmony is a musical, so and no better person to play the lead then an actual Barden Bella – Kelley Jakle.  ‘Pitching’ her performance just on the right side of cheese and delivering the films songs with ease, Jakle gives a believable and ‘Perfect’ performance.  Since Filming Christmas Harmony, Jakle has gone on to build up a career of Rom-Coms and Christmas films. I wonder if her experience making Christmas Harmony was the catalyst for those career choices?

Adam Mayfield as Luke

Luke is the towns Mr. Perfect, (with a hint of tragedy) and Harmony’s hometown love interest-expertly played by Adam Mayfield.  Mayfield displays the right amount of charisma against Jakle, and they sing well together.  He also plays a father figure in the film, and you really get the sense of loss and duty to his family from his character – good casting.

Peter Porte as Devin

There is no getting away from it, Devin is a total Douchebag!  He is a self-centred insufferable human, brought to life in remarkable fashion by Peter Porte.  Porte does not miss a step displaying Devin’s abhorrent behaviour in every scene he is in.   The only drawback is that Devin, unlike other leading characters in the film, has no depth, he is a one-dimensional character, so Porte has no choice other than do go full douche.

Overall, this is an enjoyable enough Independent Christmas holiday movie, the production is good, sound quality is great , and the visuals look spot on.  It’s just a shame that the treatment of Harmony hindered my overall enjoyment of an otherwise, well-crafted film..

So if Christmas holiday films and romantic musicals are your thing, then definitely put this on your watch list – maybe just not too high on it.

Christmas Harmony Review Scores

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Script 60points
Casting 100points
Music 80points
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Credits Words Garry

Editor JJ

Images Vision Films

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