THE CHRISTMAS CANDLE
Dramatically flat and emotionally sterile, “The Christmas Candle” (⋆⋆ out of four stars, rated PG for mild thematic elements) is a pretty period piece of a holiday fable that lacks only the wit, decent story and better dialogue that might have made it a classic. Filmed in Gloucestershire, England, it’s the tale of a village — Gladbury — that has held onto a tradition that says every 25 years, the local candlemaker produces one batch that holds the magical candle that an angel ensures will grant the owner his or her wish. But in 1890, with electricity coming, that 200-year-old tradition is pooh-poohed by the new preacher, handsome Rev. David Richmond, played by Hans Matheson, wearing the same haircut he sported on TV’s “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” and “The Tudors.” The villagers are appalled. The performances are uniformly fine, if limited, but there is not a whit of mystery to the proceedings, and even moments with the potential for great charm manage only the tiniest drop of it. Neither director John Stephenson nor the screenwriters are able to turn Max Lucado’s novel into anything more than pablum.