Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

One Magic Christmas

(Canada, USA, 1985)

For about a month I worked in Vancouver, B.C., with Philip Borsos, who was set to direct Millennium. He was the third director we tried, but the deal fell apart. I was saddened. I liked the guy a lot, liked his ideas for the film, would have been happy to collaborate with him on the script. The failure of the project had nothing to do with him, it was some arcane financial shit that just didn’t come together. A few years after that he contracted acute myeloblastic leukemia, and died at the age of forty-one. He is honored every year at the Whistler Film Festival with the Borsos Competition. Tatiana Maslany won the award twice, in 2012 and 2013, for Picture Day and Cas and Dylan. I am delighted to have that slim connection to the woman who I consider to be the best actress of her generation.

This is a small film, and possibly not for everybody. Harry Dean Stanton, of all people, is an angel, like Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life. He gets to grant one Christmas wish to one family. This turns out to be Mary Steenburgen and her daughter, the amazingly gifted Elizabeth Harnois, who was five when this was made, and has gone on to success as an adult. She is sweetly innocent, and tries to mail a letter to Santa Claus which her mom won’t deliver. Eventually she ends up at the North Pole. But things down south (in a small American town that somehow has red Canada Post mailboxes) are getting worse for mom by the minute. Everything in her life has gone wrong, and then her husband gets killed by a bank robber. Can this all be reversed? Can she to back to the critical moment that precipitated hubby’s death, and regain the true spirit of Christmas? Do you really have to ask? Stanton is good in a part that is definitely a departure for him. I liked it