mundane film that fails to fully shine

a christmas mystery is a holiday-themed film about a young Violet (played by Violet McGraw), who dons her detective hat to solve the mystery of her town’s missing bells. The film is directed by French filmmaker Alex Ranarivelo (Born to compete, Bennett’s war) and stars Violet McGraw in the title role. Also, the one hour and forty minute film is written by John Ducey.

The full cast of the film includes Oscar Nuñez, Beau Bridges, Eddie Cibrian, Christoph Sanders, Drew Powell, Lauren Lindsey Donzis, Santino Barnard, Leonardo Cecchi, Alkaio Thiele, Lauren Richardson, Karen Torres, Toby Larsen, Shonte Akognon and Brian D .cohen. Additionally, Reuben Steinberg serves as the cinematographer, while Bret Hedlund heads up the editing department.

The official synopsis of the film reads like this

One hundred years ago, a boy discovered a string of Santa’s magical jingle bells in Pleasant Bay, Oregon, bringing a century of prosperity and peace to the small town. Now, just days before Christmas, the bells, the lifeblood of the town, are missing, and it’s up to a group of intrepid kids to crack the case, find the bells, and restore Christmas magic to Pleasant Bay and its citizens.

-The review of A Christmas Mystery does not contain spoilers-

The film opens with a slight context about Pleasant Bay, a small town that bounced back from the Great Depression after a young boy found thriving rattlesnakes that changed the fate of all the residents. Now, almost a century later, those bells still bring peace and joy to the place, until they are finally stolen.

Violet, the youngest daughter of the town’s sheriff, is tasked with solving the mystery when she learns that her best friend’s father, George Bottoms, is being singled out as the bell-thief. She believes in George’s innocence and teams up with her brother to discover the truth behind the missing bells.

This brief introduction to the film is actually the heart and soul of the feature. And perhaps the only exciting part of this otherwise boring and bland movie, which makes no effort to make you sit through a tedious ninety-minute script. Also, if by chance (and only by chance) you’ve seen the trailer before venturing into the movie, then there’s nothing more to look forward to.

Ten-year-old Violet McGraw tries very hard to carry the entire movie on her shoulder and ends up making a futile rescue attempt. In fact, at one point I cared more about the candy at the police station than the abandoned bells.

a christmas mystery
A still from A Christmas Mystery

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Although the film hides the final culprit well (at least until the first thirty minutes), it makes no effort to make the hunch intriguing. I also think that wannabe detective Christmas movies have borrowed the quote from Alfred Hitchcock “There is no terror in the explosion, only in the anticipation of it”in an absolutely reverse way.

The film lacks the basic innocence that Christmas movies used to have, ultimately trying to cover it up under the guise of a heartwarming mystery. Notably, the one feel-good moment in the entire film was a short but light-hearted performance by Oscar Nuñez.

A Christmas Mystery: Final Thoughts

a christmas mystery
A still from A Christmas Mystery

If you’re looking for a heartwarming Christmas movie with a cozy and well-rounded atmosphere, then I might suggest looking elsewhere.

You can stream the movie on HBO Max. Let us know your thoughts on it in the comments section below.

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