The Mistletoe Inn (2017)

Finally, something I can relate to – a movie about writers and writing, except I’m not a writer and my writing is mostly brain dribble. Also I avoid popular romance, unless it’s in televised form. Never mind though because The Mistletoe Inn is a fine piece of Christmas fluff. Stars Alicia Witt and David Alpay are especially winning combination. Their fiery relationship fuels this story about a disheartened romance novelist who seeks inspiration and confidence at a writers’ retreat in Vermont.

The two actors end up carrying most of the weight because there’s not much action to untangle. Writers at work does not make for thrilling entertainment. There’s only so many times you can show someone punching away at her keyboard or furrowing his brow during a workshop. So instead, there’s a lot of batting insults and wit and sometimes compliments back and forth – in the hallways, at parties, during dinner, under the falling snow.

Kim (Witt) and Zeke (Alpay) meet at a writing conference at the Mistletoe Inn and are paired together, much to her chagrin since his clacking typewriter drowns out her ambient whale noises, which he can’t stand. Nevertheless, they still try to support each other in small ways. After years with her condescending ex-boyfriend, who is in the same business, Kim is reluctant to show her work or even to commit her ideas to paper. Zeke, on the other hand, comes from the world of finance and sounds like someone who needs to find himself.

Both hope that by the end of the conference, they can submit a winning body of work that will be read by legendary and mysterious romance author H.T. Cowell. It’s a swank prize since the man rarely appears in public and, if we’re going by Kim’s account, his endorsement would mean a ready seal of approval for publishers and readers. According to her, this Cowell guy is “the only author I’ve ever read who can fully capture how a woman feels.” Alright, this is fiction.

Besides appealing to the wannabe writer in me though, I most like Witt and Alpay’s chemistry. Kim and Zeke aren’t always antagonistic, but they have their scuffles, they say something supportive, and then they go back to battle. (My favorite is when she tells him to return his bike to the swap meet. That hurts.) Both are a little hyper and awkward, not unlike…me, and other people. I’m glad that in this year of women getting shit on and then turning the narrative around and standing up for themselves, Kim knows her worth. It may take her awhile to get there, but in the end, homegirl knows she’s better than a guy who dumps her via scrap paper and accuses her of not being girlfriend material because she doesn’t take her work seriously.

I can’t get over Alpay though, my love for whom I’ve chronicled here and here. I love that he is a little sly and sassy and the way he dishly looks at Kim out of the corner of his eye. He’s not a jerk but he’s not exactly a charmer, until he lets his guard down a bit and then reveals that he is. In spite of Zeke’s sarcasm, he has a sincerity that anyone would want in a writing partner. Where can I order one of these for Christmas?

Released: 2017
Dir: Alex Wright
Writer: Richard Paul Evans (book)
Cast: Alicia Witt, David Alpay, Lucie Guest, Linden Banks, Tiffani Timms, Benita Ha,
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel
Reviewed: 2017