Hallmark couldn’t have planned it, but in a way, A Song for Christmas speaks to the cultural moment, the one in which powerful men, particularly in entertainment and media, are being called to account for their sexual abuse and intimidation. This won’t put a stop to the behavior, but what was normal is now increasingly and rightly judged as criminal.
Nothing so bad transpires in this movie – it’s Hallmark and not Lifetime, after all, but the relationship between a budding country music star and her manager is instantly recognizable and left me angry and uncomfortable. The young singer, Adelaide (Becca Tobin), feels like an overpackaged, inauthentic replica of herself and aims to create her own style and music, preferring not to sing songs about a cute boy at a bus stop. But her overbearing manager Russell demands that she stick to his script. He prescribes what she can eat, when she can see her family, and even which music star she should pretend to be dating. His paternalistic attitude borders on possessive, and he’s not interested in her as a musician but as a product with which he can make money.
Adelaide puts up with it, reasoning that this is the only way to break through in the music industry. She convinces herself and others that he must know what he’s doing since he’s already helped her to a number one single and arranged for her to perform at a major Christmas show. You just want her black best friend to take her aside and say, no, it doesn’t have to be like this.
So she escapes, in a manner of speaking, but it doesn’t turn out quite the way she expects. It’s more by accident that Adelaide gets left behind when her bus takes off, stranding her in some tiny town without money or a phone. A young woman, Hailey (Kendra Leigh Timmons), offers her own home, a tree farm, while the singer waits it out and contemplates life. That humble family business is in danger of folding though, threatening to put out Hailey, her parents, and her dishy older brother, Dillon (Kevin McGarry). Adelaide accompanies Hailey as she tries to transform the farm into a holiday destination with the help of generous neighbors.
It’s all a bit of a dream for the star, who has taken to calling herself Addie. No one knows her real identity, and these new surroundings give her a sense of calm she hasn’t had in a while. They also give her the confidence she needs to assume control over her career and life. A lot is made of the fact that she’s not from the countryside, and that she doesn’t know what galoshes are. Come on – she grew up in a city, not a hole. In any case, one person does suspect this city slicker isn’t all that she seems. Dillon discovers her secret, and the two begin to bond over music.
And man, does this guy love music. All he needs is an empty parking lot, a pickup truck, and his guitar. Boy does not care if it’s midnight, snowing, or several degrees below freezing; he will just strum away. Of course this intrigues Addie, who is drawn to his talent and his breakfast-making skills. Despite her encouragement, however, he has no illusions about a career in music, which makes sense since his family is about to lose their livelihood and get kicked out of their house in the dead of winter. But if the farm can be saved, if he can showcase his talents, if she can stand up to boarish manager, if they can pen a song for Christmas, well then this movie just might have a happy, romantic, Hallmark-y ending.
Writer: Betsy Morris
Cast: Becca Tobin, Kevin McGarry, Kendra Leigh Timmons, Zarrin Darnell-Martin, Darlene Cooke
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries