I saw Max Lucado's "The Christmas Candle" last night on Amazon Prime and quite enjoyed it. The story, based on Mr. Lucado's book, starts off with a tale about a candle which is touched by an angel once a year; whoever lights that candle and prays is sure to get an answer. It then moves on to a subsequent generation and follows the tale of a preacher whose faith has been derailed by personal tragedy, and looks to find it again in the small town from which - coincidentally - originated the legend of the Christmas Candle.
Ultimately this is a tale about faith and doubt, reason and superstition, and the discerning viewer can draw lessons from the parable even where they are not clearly stated. While I enjoyed the movie and it delivered more than I expected (for I grant I expected a simpler, lighter Christmas tale), I do think it lost an opportunity to clearly articulate a particular lesson; I would have written the end slightly differently, to accentuate the message that had been implied by other events in the movie.
Hans Matheson shines in the lead role as the preacher David Richmond, while Sylvester McCoy (Dr. Who 1987 - 1989!) also does a fantastic job as Edward Harrington, the old keeper of the candles, supported by Leslie Manville. Susan Boyle's debut movie performance leaves much to be desired; she's a truly gifted singer, but she seemed stiff and uncomfortable on set, and I even suspected that her speaking voice had been dubbed over - even if by herself - in a couple of scenes.
The critics hated this movie - not a surprise given the subject matter and the way it was treated - but most audiences responded positively according to the scores on Rotten Tomatoes. I'm with the audiences on this one. It could have been executed better, but it was entertaining and inspiring, without being saccharine.
If you get the chance to see it, let me know what you think!