A Christmas Mystery (2014)

Title: A Christmas Mystery
Year of Release: 2014
Available On: Amazon Prime as of 9/19
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Jingle Bells

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Rebecca (Esmé Bianco) is a hard-nosed reporter who’s in trouble for being a little too cutthroat. As if getting suspended from her job wasn’t enough, her mother also dies, and it is in the wake of that loss that she discovers a mystery. While she’s cleaning out her childhood home after the funeral, she discovers 12 years’ worth of holiday cards that are unsigned. She doesn’t know anyone who lived in the town where they came from, and her dad’s been dead 25 years, so she wonders if it was an admirer. Rebecca and her mother were estranged, so she feels compelled to investigate. She gets in touch with her childhood friend’s dad’s army buddy’s son (yes, it’s that convoluted) who works as a P.I. – she and Andrew (Ryan Bittle) are off running.

Andrew: It’s my job to know people.
Rebecca: So you’re nosey.

Andrew is shady as hell. He keeps taking calls from someone who is clearly checking up on Rebecca and how the investigation is going. Since this genre is, well, the genre, I’m sure this is Rebecca’s long lost father who had to join Witness Protection all those years ago when they thought he’d died. Sparks are flying between Andrew and Rebecca, but what secrets is he keeping? Why’s he always on the phone talking about her but also being so complimentary and flirtatious and quoting Longfellow?

BUT I GUESS WE’LL SEE.

Actress Esme is British (and was in Game of Thrones, so that could be a plus to some of you who’ve watched that). I guess her American accent wasn’t perfect, so they made up a line about how Rebecca’s mother sent her off to boarding school following the death of her father. It’s slight, but it’s also proof that the tiniest accommodations can make a story more believable. Small touches. Nonetheless, I approve.

Rebecca: I’d ask you up, but I’m not sure I trust myself.

Really, Rebecca? Really? I’m sorry they gave you that line, Esme.

The acting and sets are pretty good. Solid stuff, nothing that takes you out of the story. There is ONE scene where Rebecca is looking at old photos and they are clearly photoshopped and so, so poorly – honestly, I could do better and my skills are very limited. The chemistry between the two leads is non-existent. The dialogue is meh. Not exemplary, but not horrible. The depiction of grief isn’t horrible, but it’s not realistic either. (I’m a grief counselor, there’s no way I’m not gonna address this.) The story line is a new one. Of course it’s going to circle back to some of the old tropes, and it’s not the most believable thing I’ve ever watched, but the mystery aspect was enjoyable and watchable. Guns! In a Christmas movie! I could’ve done without the guns, but I didn’t mind the suspenseful moments added by the mystery that needs solving.

Ok, the longer I watch this the worse it gets. There’s a jail scene wherein all of the supposed inmate’s tattoos are obviously fake (and are supposed to be plot points). That’s another of my own personal pet peeves, being covered in tattoos myself. Hire a tattooed actor! For heaven’s sake.

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