A Christmas Memory,
directed by Glenn Jordan
(Hallmark, 1997)

A Christmas Memory is a "chick flick" drama based on a life story by Truman Capote. If you enjoy flatlined life stories, you might like this one. I positively do not recommend it as a Christmas story and I have strong reservations about recommending it at all. It is definitely a "buyer beware" situation and you need to clearly understand the style of movie it is before you get it.

Buddy's mother went to New York to be an actress and left him in the care of three spinster sisters and their brother. Buddy (Eric Lloyd) has bonded with Sook (Patty Duke), who is a bit "slow" and extremely childlike. The domineering, in-charge older sister, Jennie (Piper Laurie) is worried because Buddy has no friends his age and is not interested in learning "man things."

Instead, Buddy wants to spend his time learning to cook and helping Sook pick flowers to sell for weddings and funerals. Jenny also feels Sook is distracting Buddy from his schoolwork. She decides to send him to military school. But Callie (Anita Gillette) wants Buddy to stay because he keeps them young and brings life into their otherwise empty home. Seabone (Jeffrey DeMunn) does not want Buddy to leave, either. He does not see any harm in their situation and thinks Buddy is doing just fine.

Each day brings the family closer to the inevitable confrontation with family matriarch Jenny. As Callie and Seabone watch, Buddy and Sook struggle with their breaking hearts.

All the roles were well played, but Duke really shines as Sook. She brings this character to life with extreme power and depth. Lloyd does a fine job as Buddy. I loved Jimmie F. Skaggs as Haha Jones.

But the title is misleading. There is not much about Christmas in this movie and it is far too depressing to be a holiday movie. It lags and drags, day in and day out, through the lives of these people. The only bright spot of the movie is when Sook and Buddy dispose of the leftover fruitcake whiskey by drinking it. Otherwise, it is a heavy movie with much bickering that you keep thinking will go somewhere only to learn that it does not go anywhere except the next day of life with a group of bickering people.

review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

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