“Life is never how it’s supposed to be.”
Hanna (Sarah Lancaster, Chuck) is living the dream. Wait a minute — scratch that, she’s living the reality. Scratch that, she’s living the reality of the innumerable amount of her fellow wannabe actors — waiting tables and acting in crappy plays, crashing at their friends’ places instead of seeing their name up in lights on Broadway. But her best friend Nicole surprises her with tickets back home, a home she hasn’t visited in a decade. And what is supposed to be a relaxing hometown Christmas intended to take her mind off waiting to hear whether or not she scored a role in the latest David Mamet play instead turns into Hanna facing what her life is and the choices she’s made head on.
Speaking of those choices, the main one which has kept her from going home again over the years is her boyfriend’s decision to not join her in New York, a move they meticulously planned together until the last moment when he decided to stay behind and consequently break her heart. It’s a situation Hanna doesn’t really want to confront but she’s literally forced to when she runs into Barry (Andrew Francis, Max Steel). Having never left their tiny hometown Barry has gotten married to someone they both went to high school with and has a daughter. But he and all the other townspeople assume Hanna stayed away because she’s some huge success in New York. And Hanna is too ashamed of her humble lifestyle to come clean with anyone, especially since half the town seems to be living vicariously through what they imagine her life to be. So Hanna is already feeling on shaky ground with everyone in her hometown assuming that she’s some huge success in New York when she receives another bout of bad news. Her agent calls to let her know that she did not score the Mamet role and worse than that he’s going to drop her as a client.
What’s a girl to do? Ask Santa what she should do, naturally. Santa gives her a key he claims will help her find the answers, her Christmas wish. Hanna’s dreams begin taking on hyper-realistic situations which lead her to imagine what her life would have been like had she never left her hometown. Hanna is thrown into some brooding introspection and it is during this self-analysis that she begins to toy with the idea of taking on her alma mater’s vacant drama teacher role. It’s an opportunity she considers in part because of encouragement from Dean (Brendan Penny, Motive), the fourth in her high school quartet of best buds and — you guessed it — her new possible love interest.
Consequently, life throws yet another curveball Hanna’s way — now that she’s seriously thinking of staying her ex-agent calls to say guess what? The actress who snagged that Mamet role is out, meaning Hanna’s in. Which way will Hanna lean? Towards love of performing or love of Dean?
No, you won’t be surprised by anything which happens during ‘Tis the Season for Love. It’s a film which faithfully follows the conventions of the rest of its genre. But what will draw you in and keep you watching is Sarah Lancaster. She’s highly likable as Hanna and fully engages with everyone she interacts with on screen.
Given the film’s release date it’s no surprise the technical specs are in keeping with others of its ilk. A clean, minimally-processed 1.78:1 video transfer is paired with a rather unexpected Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The film looks good with a slight edge given to the sound which I expected to be a Dolby 2.0 track. Neither audio nor video will surprise you in a negative way so you can sit back and enjoy the film without fear of technical snafus. The lone special feature is a code for a digital download.
‘Tis the Season for Love is a sweet slice of Christmas romance tinged with just the slightest bit of sadness at dreams feeling out of reach. I enjoyed the acknowledgement that not everything you want will happen for you, regardless of the amount of work you put in. It wasn’t a preachy message but rather a gentle reminder that every choice means a consequence, and sometimes that consequence is letting go of something you really want.
‘Tis Not Guilty.