“You want a castle? It’s yours.”
Genre: Turning Over A New Leaf of Mistletoe Romance
New Holiday Spirit or Ghost of Christmas Past?: original story based on lots of the usual romance and holiday film clichés – released 2021
Where I Watched: Netflix
Synopsis: Sophie Brown is a world-renowned romance author with one little problem; she’s killed off the leading man in her bestselling series. So she packs up and heads to Scotland, to visit the castle her late father grew up near when he was a boy. She hits it off with all the townspeople, but butts heads with the owner of the castle, the curmudgeonly – but oh so handsome – Duke Myles. He loves the idea of Sophie’s cash to help the castle and town out of financial difficulties, but figures she’ll bolt before Christmas Day’s escrow, after he makes the place a nightmare in her eyes. It must be love!
Unwrap or regift?: Okay y’all, you know the drill. This is a holiday rom-com, so it’s gonna reach for those heartstrings and try to tug ’em for all their worth. And damn if this movie doesn’t do the job. What’s not to like? There’s a castle, tons of plaid, an enemies-to-lovers plot, yarn bombing, and an absolutely adorable pup. Plus every single supporting character subplot gets wrapped up nicely, with tons of happy, laughing characters as the end credits loom. Who cares if we know what’s gonna happen every step of the way? With Brooke Shields and Cary Elwes charmingly unexpected chemistry? I was all in. Hell, I was all in the moment I got to see gorgeous shots of Scottish countryside. Never underestimate my ability to get sucked in by sap. I am a bottomless pit of need in that regard.
While the cinematography and set design is an absolute treat, there are a few things that made me think “yeah well, this is a holiday rom-com after all”. Some of the dialogue is a bit too on-the-nose with its telegraphing of what’s gonna come next. Or what a particular character is thinking. It should fall flat, but the ensemble cast – led by a game Shields and Elwes – make it work. That these lines are trite but endearing nonetheless is entirely thanks to the performers uttering them. And strangely, the soundtrack is a bit too 90s pop twee that feels out of step with the plot with its lack of holiday-ness… But it mellows into the usual fun but forgettable modern holiday background noise we come to expect from these romcoms. Just the right amount of jolly, with a touch of plot exposition.
I’m guessing if you’re in the mood for a cheerful holiday love story, you’re already all in, so my telling you that this is one worth watching with your besties is probably a moot point. But I’ll say it anyway. Hell, it’s worth the price of admission just to see Cary wearing a kilt. Thank you, baby Jesus.
Score: 4 out of 5 Hos.