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A Christmas Carol (2009) - film review

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Starring Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman & Colin Firth

Christmas film review by Chris Olson

Nightmarish and bold, this creepy take on the classic Charles Dickens tale is lacking the usual fluffy trimmings of a Christmas film and instead goes for the ghoulish.

In a sparkling piece of casting, animated Jim Carrey takes on the archetypal role of Ebenezer Scrooge, and instead of delivering a cartoonish performance, serves up a truly morose and affecting old codger. It seems pointless to go into the plot or the character, as they are so synonymous with Christmas, but here is a quick run-down:

A cheapskate business owner is visited by three ghosts who terrorise his night's sleep until he gets into the Christmas spirit.

What is beautiful about Zemeckis' film is the richness of the detail; the score is huge and sweeping, the pacing is beat perfect, moving the audience through drastically different scenes without much jarring, and the tone is consistently engrossing throughout. Never does the film drop the bauble and fail to deliver what it sets out to do.

There is always a reason why certain stories are daubed “timeless”, and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is certainly that. To become a festive tradition, a story must transcend the usual elements of a “good story”, and instead capture something quintessential. The reason why we keep revisiting Scrooge (a title which has had its own cultural impact), is the deep fear we all have of that possible darkness inside us that a simple tragedy or hardship could trigger at a moment’s notice, and we lose ourselves to misanthropic moping.

The fact that Jim Carrey, known for being such a wildly animated performer, is slumped into this character has a huge effect on viewers, reinforcing this fear of the oblivion in our own subconscious. When we take a look at Michael Caine’s version of Scrooge in the movie with the Muppets, there can also be huge similarities drawn.

Many viewers will probably feel this depiction of A Christmas Carol is too terrifying for a Christmas film, especially an animated one, but for audiences looking for a festive film that captures the truly haunting nature of this ghost story from a literary giant, Robert Zemeckis delivers an undeniable triumph.

Come back tomorrow for another Christmas film review.


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