“Invented” is a rather melodramatic overstatement, but this is nevertheless an affable and gentle holiday biopic, perfect for a matinee with visiting relatives. It covers the two months in 1843 in which Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, and the condition in which he wrote it: panic. As presented in Susan Coyne’s mostly historically-faithful screenplay, the kind-hearted, charismatic Dickens (Dan Stevens) is struggling to work out the story for a novel that he desperately needs to be a success, since his last three were flops. He interacts with his imagined characters (including a fine Christopher Plummer as Scrooge), which is less precious than it could have been, though the movie does delight overmuch in showing Dickens stumbling across familiar-to-us details (e.g. a ghostly waiter named Marley). Stevens cuts loose as Dickens, a theatrical fellow who does funny voices for his adoring children, and finds depth in his flaws, notably his disdain for his embarrassing father (Jonathan Pryce). Without overselling it, director Bharat Nalluri underscores Dickens’ own Scrooge-like need for redemption (albeit on a much smaller scale), and delivers a warm, hearty yuletide tale in the process.
Director: Bharat Nalluri
Producer: Robert Mickelson, Ian Sharples, Susan Mullen, Niv Fichman, Vadim Jean, Paula Mazur, Mitchell Kaplan, Andrew Karpen and Laurie May
Cast: Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Justin Edwards, Morfydd Clark, Donald Sumpter, Miles Jupp, Simon Callow, Miriam Margolyes, Ian McNeice, Bill Paterson, Anna Murphy, Ger Ryan, Annette Badland and Cosimo Fusco