A December Bride (2016)


I wasn’t prepared to like this, or any Hallmark movie really, and I’m especially disdainful of characters who insist on celebrating a wedding on a certain date or at a certain venue (looking at you, Bride Wars). But this movie surprised me with its wholly pleasant characters; there is no bitter bride, no bickering set of lovers, just two nice people who conspire against fate. It turned out to be what I needed to relax on a stressful Monday night.

Though the story starts off with a broken engagement and then is fueled by a lie about another engagement, the deception doesn’t seem so bad. Lying, I suppose, is okay in the name of true love. It’s easy to sympathize too because Layla (Jessica Lowndes) begins the movie in the arms of her fiancé (Jay Hindle), until their mutual friend, Seth (Daniel Lissing), introduces her partner to her cousin (Pauline Egan) and she is then forced to attend their wedding. If ever there was a time to keep calm and carry on, this isn’t it. But Layla is a better, if fictional, person than me, and watching her weather the worst storm in her life with little pretension and no bitchiness makes me retreat under my cozy blanket in shame.

Even when she literally runs into Seth again, she’s quick to put the past behind them and agrees to attend the wedding together. Their friendly reunion gets a lot friendlier though when he announces to everyone that they’re engaged, a consequence of trying to make her feel better and probably a good amount of champagne. It’s a pretense they must keep up when the news spreads and when they find out their fake relationship will also benefit their working lives. He is a buttoned up businessman who needs to dress up his house for a charity showing and she is an interior decorator who needs to score a major client so that she can strike out on her own.

The closest the movie comes to an antagonist is Layla’s smug boss. Even Layla’s cousin and ex-fiancé attempt to make amends, though I wish this subplot could have been expanded on instead of the one involving the boss. Otherwise the main thing working against the couple is their own inability to admit their growing affection for one another. The two make it look so easy, and if that’s the route to happiness, I’m off to stage my own fake engagement.

Released: 2016
Dir: David Winning
Writer: Karen Berger
Cast: Jessica Lowndes, Daniel Lissing, Karen Kruper, Pauline Egan, Jay Hindle, April Telek
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark
Reviewed: 2016