Andrew Walker is in fine form for his second of two Hallmark Christmas films this year. The first one was less than spectacular so let’s agree to never mention it again, but Christmas On My Mind improves on that last effort and the actor looks as handsome as ever. The film gets off to a promising start with Ashley Greene as Lucy, a bride-to-be who slips and hits her head right before Christmas. When she comes to, she realizes that she’s lost her memory, a rather inconvenient development since she’s clutching her wedding dress and has no clue who the groom might be. She thinks she’s about to marry Zach, played by Walker, but when she goes to find him in Bedford Harbor, she learns that they broke up two years ago.
I love a good mystery, and a cracking Christmas mystery is even better. This film doesn’t quite live up to expectations though despite some solid performances. Lucy’s predicament suggests a puzzle, one in which she has to piece together her past to figure out what she’s doing in the present. There’s precious little detective work to be done, however. Rather than focusing on the reason behind Lucy and Zach’s breakup, the movie often reverts to a conventional romance, a story about reuniting two ex-lovers. It occasionally drops a clue or dangles a mystery, but these are embellishments and nothing more.
The suspense generated by the opening scenes dissipates once the logic of this story breaks down. Lucy is diagnosed with retrograde amnesia and finds herself unable to recall anything from the past two years. She can’t remember what she does for a living or the fact that she’s about to marry Brad (Clayton James). She can, however, remember her life as an arts teacher and that she was engaged to Zach before she moved to Portland, Maine. I don’t know what the medically appropriate thing to do is in this situation, but I’m guessing spending time in Portland might be more useful to her than hanging out in Bedford Harbor with people she already knows. After all, she made a conscious decision to move to Portland and to marry Brad, and you’d think she’d want to trigger memories from these last two years. Lucy explains that she can’t move on without figuring out how she ended up working at a fancy arts foundation or why she’s eschewing Christmas crafts and home cooking, which makes sense, but these are answers she can probably coax out of sympathetic friends. They aren’t, by the way, answers that the viewers ever learn.
As bothered as I am by the story, I still enjoyed this ensemble. Walker and Greene are a natural fit. Walker brings out all of Zach’s emotions, giving us his character’s shocked, awkward, and sensitive sides in equal measure. Greene has a more difficult job since her character is so frustrating, but she works her chemistry with Walker, and you can see why Zach still falls for Lucy. My favorite couple though is Lucy’s friend, Anna (Donna Benedicto), and Zach’s brother, Beau (Preston Vanderslice), who bring something pure to a story filled with secrets and messy relationships. Anna is by far the most charming person in this movie, and Benedicto shines as loyal BFF. Unfortunately, she’s not going to lead a Hallmark movie any time soon, but Lifetime, give my girl a call and pair her with Mark Ghanimé or another POC hottie. This is not to take away from Vanderslice, who also makes the most of his role. He’s both cute with his girl and funny around his brother, which is just the balance this film needs.
Dir: Maclain Nelson
Writer: Kirsten Hansen
Cast: Ashley Greene, Andrew Walker, Jackee Harry, Donna Benedicto, Preston Vanderslice, Clayton James, Debs Howard
Time: 90 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries