The Christmas Contract (2018)

Hilarie Burton (Jolie) and Robert Buckley (Jack) know one another through Jack's sister Naomi, played by Danneel Ackles. The story opens with a December party at Naomi's place in New York, where Jolie shares her concern—her ex-boyfriend, Foster. They broke up months before, but Foster has a new girlfriend, and since Foster is a good friend of Jolie's family, he will be 'around' at Christmas with his new love on his arm. Naomi and Jolie concoct a reasonable plan for Jolie to save face at Christmas in Louisiana with her family—she needs a 'boyfriend.' (Con'd)

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Romantic, comedy, and drama movie The Christmas Contract (2018) boasts a tried-and-true plot lovers of romance movies have often presented. Our heroine, Jolie, is in good company with actors like Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet from the film The Holiday (2006) and Amy Smart from Just Friends (2005), for example. These fantastic movies are full of angst and sexual tension that never gets old. It's a relatable theme as many people have experienced heartbreak and awkward situations involving ex-partners. The casting is spot on as the lead characters are different enough yet have enough common interests to make us believe their feelings.

Escaping into the fantasy world of a sweet holiday romance provides a beautiful reminder of feelings of warmth, joy, and love. Watching characters overcome obstacles and find love can evoke strong emotions. It's not unusual to sob while enjoying a 'fake boyfriend' holiday romance movie, and I might add---healthy. Seeing the lead female find happiness despite her challenges is uplifting, satisfying, and cathartic.

Winter holiday movies are typically set in locations with snow everywhere and shivering people in coats blowing hot air on their hands while seeking a blazing fire. This is generally the expectation for Christmas. I found The Christmas Contract's setting of Louisiana to be a refreshing location—plenty of twinkling lights, decorated trees, and dancing outdoors under the stars to Delta Blues and Creole music. Setting aside, the reason I don slippers and tea and sit glued to the narrative unfolding on the screen is the ultimate hopeful note I know will come. The characters will find love and happiness. The Christmas Contract filled the bill nicely, and I recommend it.

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