A Christmas Together with You is part of the Hallmark Channel’s 2021 Countdown to Christmas. This is your flick if you are looking for a movie that breaks the typical Hallmark formula’s mold. Of course, there is the standard girl meets an obnoxious boy then falls in love storyline, but that is secondary to the real magic of the movie.
Release Date: November 20, 2021. The 14th release of the 2021 Countdown to Christmas lineup.
Director: Kevin Fair
Writers: Don and Graham Locke
Film Location: Vernon, British Columbia
Run Time: 1 Hour 23 Minutes
With a name like Vandervoort, you may think Laura Vandervoort is from The Netherlands, but she is actually Canadian. (Her dad is Dutch, so it is in her blood)
She is a versatile actress with acting gigs ranging from Smallville and The Handmaid’s Tale to her two Hallmark Channel movies (ACTWY and Playing Cupid).
In A Christmas Together with You, she plays Megan, a coffee shop owner, with her best friend. She definitely has talent, creating a character with depth, believability, and likeability.
I think they could have skipped the “left at the alter” backstory to her character. She was able to develop Megan’s vulnerability without the need for the hokey cliche.
All in all, she does an outstanding job.
Niall Matter is a Canadian along with Vandervoort, but from Alberta rather than Ontario. Before becoming an actor, Matter worked on an oil rig for eight years. After a severe injury, he decided to focus on pursuing an acting career.
He is one of the leading Hallmark male actors with almost a dozen films to his credit. He even won an award for his role as a bad boy hockey player in Frozen in Love.
In A Christmas Together with You, he plays Steve Sawnson, a former investment tycoon that gave it all up to open a quaint B&B. He delivers an underwhelming performance that is the result of a poorly written character and a weaker storyline.
Harry Lennix has that face you just recognize. Whether it was from his days on Billons or in Superman movies, The Blacklist, or even the Dollhouse (or the dozens of other roles he has had over the years), you will just instantly recognize him.
In addition to a distinctive look, he also possesses an equally unique voice. His baritone voice just oozes confidence and competency. It is no wonder he has so many roles as authority figures like generals and politicians and the such.
As Frank, a frequent customer at Megan’s coffee shop and her father figure, I would argue he is the actual male lead in A Christmas Together with You, not Steve Swanson.
He delivers an outstanding performance. While there are many great Hallmark actors, you can see Lennixs acting abilities are on a whole other level.
Frank is stoic, with his emotions clearly under control. But with Lennix’s performance, you begin to see the layers of the onion peel away until you realize the pain he has carried for half a century.
A Christmas Together With You is a story within a story.
It starts with Megan (Laura Vandervoort), the owner of a small-town cafe recovering from a recent cancellation of her holiday wedding. While serving her favorite customer, widower Frank (Harry Lennix), his breakfast, she notices he has an old picture. While cleaning a closet, Frank found the photo, and Megan learns it is of Frank’s first love.
To distract from her canceled engagement, Megan convinces Frank to go on an adventure and locate his long-lost love, Claire (Lisa Huget). Of course, Frank reluctantly agrees.
On the way to the town where Frank last knew Claire, Megan stops for coffee and has an unfortunate run-in with a self-absorbed guy on his cellphone. After he bumps into Megan spilling her coffee, rather than apologize, he just throws some money at her and continues his call.
When Megan and Frank arrive at the quaint lodge where they are staying, they discover two things. First, the lodge is more cozy than it is elegant. Secondly, we learn that the rude guy from the roadside coffee shop is Steve (Niall Matter), and he owns the lodge.
While Megan helps Frank find Claire, she begins to get to know Steve better and even begins helping out around the lodge.
Meanwhile, Frank finds Claire, but any hope of rekindling their romance is dashed when she lets him know he hurt her too much to risk being hurt again.
After all, this is a Hallmark movie, so it is not long until Steve and Megan develop feelings for each other. At the same time, Frank decides to give up on his romantic notion of reconnecting with Claire and wants to head home.
Megan realizes it would never work with Steve and agrees to head home. Before they leave, Frank leaves a note for Claire explaining why he broke her heart 30 years ago.
While driving home, they soon discover they have a stowaway, Steve’s dog. So they u-turn to return the dog.
When they get back to town, Megan realizes she does want to be with Steve. After reading his note, Frank is happy to learn Claire understood why he left her so many years ago, has forgiven him, and wants to give love a second chance.
The chemistry in this flick is misplaced. Of course, we are supposed to be interested in the budding romance between Megan and Steve, but that relationship is just flat. They are the stars and beautiful people. Why wouldn’t we be cheering for them?
Because there just isn’t anything there. The storyline is forced. The stars have as much passion as kissing Aunt Mildred when she gives you yet another sweater she knitted for Christmas.
There is such a void of chemistry between the two that I was kind of expecting Megan and Steve to high five each other at the end of the movie versus kissing.
The writers would have had a better story if they had just focused on Megan and Frank’s unique relationship as well as Frank and Claire’s conflicted romance.
Laura Vandervoort did an outstanding job creating an emotionally bruised character that reaches out to her father-figure to help her heal by helping him close a decades-old hole in his heart.
Harry Lennix does an equally tremendous job creating this nurturing relationship that provides warmth and depth.
By helping each other, they are both able to heal their own hearts.
Frank and Claire’s relationship was also far more compelling than Megan and Steve’s. The obstacles they encountered were very relatable, and both Lennix and Huger have the acting chops to craft a nuanced relationship that feels authentic and realistic.
A Christmas Together With You had the potential to be a much better movie than it was. Vandervoort, Lennix, and Huger all delivered fantastic performances. When the story followed their journeys, it was filled with tender moments, and I found myself totally engaged with their characters.
Unfortunately, when Matter’s Steve was on the screen, the flick descended into the worst of Hallmark movies. His character was underdeveloped, and the relationship with Megan felt manufactured and flat.
If Don and Graham Locke had simply created a tale that focused on the dynamic of the relationship of Megan and Frank with Frank’s quest for rekindled love as the backdrop, this could have been one of the best releases of the 2021 Countdown to Christmas line-up.