Next up in the holidays movie marathon is Christmas Belle. Its something of a modernized holiday spinoff of Beauty and the Beast which as some of you know, I’m a huge fan of twisting fairy tales. Cinderella and Snow White are two very popular properties that get the spinoff treatment but I have yet to see Beauty and the Beast (except for Beastly which was okay…I think). With that said, Christmas Belle falls into my soft spot so it already has some points before we start.
Let’s check it out!
Christmas Belle (2013)
Director: Alex Wright
Cast: Haylie Duff, Nicholas Gonzalez, Mark Famiglietti, C. Thomas Howell, Sheree J. Wilson, Jerry Hauck
IMDB didn’t really have a decent synopsis so here’s my version: Isabella Everhart is sent by her father to document the Lowell estate passed down to Hunter Lowell. Hunter Lowell is a grumpy guy with a lot on his mind and rudely rejects Belle’s appearance however due to his urgency to get everything done before Christmas, reluctantly accepts the arrangement. He is hard to approach and while Belle enjoys this job and the library full of rare books and gets to know the housekeeper Angie very well, her eagerness to prepare the house for the estate sale gets her in trouble when she rearranges a room she isn’t allowed into. However, this breaks the ice a little between her and Hunter as he tries to make amends to her for his behavior. As they know each other more, they become closer and its here that long time friend Tony enters the town with her father to show his love for her with big gestures and a few lies.
Christmas Belle plays along with the Beauty and the Beast plot line quite closely. Of course, while Hunter is not called The Beast and his dog is, it somehow hints that Beast growing a fondness for Belle is an overshadow of what is to happen, which to be honest, we all already know the ending. However, regardless of that, Hayliee Duff and Nicholas Gonzalez has a lot of chemistry as their relationship gets closer. It still lacks some depth and feels a little disjointed but they are incredibly charming together and its hard to not fall in love with the genuine feelings between them. Of course, Tony (played by Mark Famiglietti) shows up and tries to break them apart and its here that my frustration for Hunter shows that I have bonded with him because his easiness to believe lies becomes quite irritating as many male romance films tend to build them that way where they falter when doubted and stop believing the girl that they know more and not this bozo that shows up claiming things. Who do you trust, right? Its pretty obvious but it never happens that way. Of course, its the conflict that they need to resolve to get their happy ending. To be fair, its expected and I did enjoy a lot of this whole going on because bonding with Belle and Hunter was part of the deal to hoping they will get together (even if this is one of those movies that it will happen).
With that said, Christmas Belle does have some issues. Lets start with something good that leads to something bad. The good part is that the setting of the estate is absolutely beautiful. Its a mansion with a beautiful interior decorating and the land around it is a vineyard with a lovely barn and a covered bridge. Its picturesque. The town itself is wonderful as well being homey and charming. However, the direction of the film wants to make it more dramatic than it is or just that they had an obsession with the score. With that came segments of showing a shirtless Nicholas Gonzalez doing his morning run two or three times to some orchestral music which was slightly unnecessary and over the top. There were other scenes that were more fitting like lens flares on Christmas lights in a decorating scene with some nice orchestral music as well that worked better. However, the score was so loved that in one part it actually overpowered the dialogue between Belle and Hunter.
Overall, Christmas Belle had a little bit of good and bad. It could have used with a less of flaunting the score and overdoing it. Some scenes felt downright unnecessary. At the same time, the source material works for a Christmas theme. Haylie Duff and Nicholas Gonzalez both do a great job as Belle and Hunter and are completely believable as the leading couple here to root for. There are some over the top sappy dialogue but it stay nice and fluffy and the feel good factor here is pretty decent. Although there’s one part that Belle threatens to punch Tony and I wish she did but I think these movies have something about not having violence and foul language so probably thats why it didn’t happen. Still, its a little average but relatively enjoyable.