The Christmas Candle (U) ****

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Britain’s Got Talent finalist Susan Boyle makes her feature film acting debut in John Stephenson’s festive drama, adapted from the novel of the same name by Max Lucado.

Progressive young minister David Richmond (Hans Matheson) arrives in the sleepy village of Gladbury, nestled deep in the English countryside. He learns of a local legend which states that every 25 years, an angel descends on Gladbury and blesses one of the candles in the shop run by candlemaker Edward Haddington (Sylvester McCoy) and his wife Bea (Lesley Manville). Whoever lights this candle and says a prayer will be granted a Christmas wish. David doesn’t believe the myth and he encourages his congregation to abandon their reliance on the candle for miracles and to perform small acts of kindness of their own free will.

Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle

The modernisation of Gladbury gives church warden Herbert Hopewell (James Cosmo) and his wife Eleanor (Boyle) cause for grave concern. However, it does pique the interest of religious sceptic Emily Barstow (Samantha Barks), who is drawn to David at the very moment that the minister’s mission is thrown into jeopardy by the disappearance of the supposedly anointed candle.

Boyle’s performance is endearing and her stunning vocal talent continues to dazzle while the gentle chemistry between Matheson and Barks complements the piece without upstaging the film’s central ideas.

This sweet film may be overlooked by more cynical reviewers for it’s seemingly twee and optimistic stylings. However, those willing to look beyond the film’s seemingly innocent exterior will discover a much deeper narrative, depicting the difficulty realities and true beauty of faith and love in action.

This heart-warming movie may well become a modern-day Christmas classic.