“What do you do when you’ve been given a second chance at life and you don’t know what to do with it?”
A man leaves his caretaker $100,000 after he dies and also gifts her an all-expenses paid Christmas vacation to the Bramble House.
That’s exactly what the man’s now-grown children, whom he abandoned when they were quite young, want to know in the 2017 Hallmark film “A Bramble House Christmas”.
‘Twas “A Bramble House Christmas”
Willa Fairchild (Autumn Reeser), a caretaker, is on her way to the Bramble House bed and breakfast, with her son, Scout (Liam Hughes).
So is Finn Knightly (David Haydn-Jones). He tells his sister, Molly (Julia Benson) that he plans to confront Willa, find out the truth, and serve her with an injunction.
But that all changes when he meets Willa and her son at Bramble House. It turns out Scout is a huge fan of “Everyday Sam” books, which Knightly coincidentally happens to illustrate.
As they get to know each other, Finn casually interrogates both Willa and Scout about their lives, all the while concealing his true identity from them.
Finn ends up bonding with both of them – making gingerbread houses, taking a carriage ride, ice skating, and helping Scout make his first book as a Christmas present for Willa.
About halfway through the movie, Finn ends up discovering the true reason why his father gave Willa the money: because Scout nearly died and she ended up deep in debt due to medical bills.
After learning this, Finn tells Molly that he no longer plans to challenge the will and tosses the injunction in the trash. Oddly, Molly now seems convinced that Willa conned their father out of the money and, before you know it, she arrives at Bramble House.
Molly reveals that she and Finn are the children of Greg Conrad, whom she was the caretaker for – and Molly has rescued the injunction, which was amazingly still pristine fresh out of the trash.
Willa is crushed. She says she was never interested in the money and that their father talked about how much he loved both of them and regretted the choice he made.
This leads to Willa leaving Bramble House with Scout, but not before they stop at the town Christmas tree for one last look. This gives Finn and Molly the chance to catch up with them – and for Finn to successfully plea with Willa for a second chance.
Our Review of “A Bramble House Christmas”
🎅🏻 The Nice List 🤶🏻
Overall, this was a great Hallmark movie. There was a clear theme of second chances, which materialized in multiple ways:
- For Scout and his second chance on life.
- For Finn, after nearly completely blowing it with Willa.
- For Mable (Teryl Rothery) and Ken (Andrew Airlie), who get a second (or 22nd) chance despite her stubbornness.
- And even for Mr. Conrad – who, sadly, never got his.
This movie is also a winner because it has multiple storylines going on – it isn’t all just the Willa and Finn relationship. There’s also:
- Willa, figuring out who she is and what she wants for herself – professionally and personally.
- Scout, realizing he’s healthy now and really has a future to look forward to.
- Mable, who fibs about how she hurt herself (was that from horseback riding, ice skating?) because she doesn’t know how to ask for help.
- Finn and Molly healing and letting go of the hurt from their childhood.
- We even learn a lot about the life of character who we never see on-screen, other than in a framed picture as a child at Bramble House – Greg Conrad – why he abandoned his wife and children, his regret, and his attempt at redemption through Willa.
While this clearly used a variation on the Hallmark Christmas movie formula, it was a fairly unique spin. It definitely didn’t feel like the plot we’ve seen in at five other movies over the years.
❤️ These Characters
We loved Willa as the single mom, unsure of herself and afraid to love again, but knowing she wants only the best for Scout.
Even though Finn is gruff and starts in a dark place, he still cute and seems genuinely transformed by Willa.
As for the supporting cast, nobody is “just there” aside from Savannah (Lyla Marlow), Sage’s daughter. Everyone else has a moment (or moments) to shine – save for Molly, who we’ll talk about in a minute.
🎄 That Christmas Feeling 🎄
“A Bramble House Christmas” definitely feels Christmas-y.
Ken, the town Santa, reads “The Night Before Christmas” to children.
And Willa helps decorate Bramble House.
We even had a pretty blatant cameo of Balsam Hill decorations.
And to All a Good Night?
For a movie built around the theme of second chances (as well as following your heart, embracing your life, and taking a chance), the ending makes sense. Willa, and everyone watching, is ready to give Finn one
How can we stay mad at Finn after he promises to make everything up to her and Scout, promising the best Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Arbor Day and even National Ice Cream Day. “Any day that you will let me make special for you.”
The final scene, of the cast all together around the Christmas tree, is also a winner – as is the fade out on that childhood picture of Mr. Conrad hanging on the wall.
You’ll Cry… 😢
When Scout reveals to Finn just how sick he was for the past two years and how, when everyone thought he might die, everyone stopped asking him what he wanted to be when he grew up.
🎬 Lights, Camera, Acting! 🎬
All of the actors turned in strong performances. Reeser and Haydn-Jones had good chemistry together.
The supporting cast, for the most part, had their moments – including Teryl Rothery (as Mable) and Andrew Airlie (as Ken) – plus Hilary Jardone (as Sage) was strong in her supporting role as Willa’s future BFF.
👎 The Naughty List 👎
Did Scout Get That Great Christmas Memory?
Finn is on our naughty list.
Ultimately, Scout got his Christmas wish – to stay at Bramble House as long as possible. But it almost didn’t happen because of Finn.
Scout became friends with Finn, but Finn had ulterior motives and was lying to Scout and Willa for most of the movie.
And Scout was ripped away from Bramble House at night and didn’t understand why.
Hopefully Finn makes the most of his second chance.
💸 Was It $50,000 or $100,000? 💸
Hallmark also makes our naughty list.
From Hallmark’s website:
“While settling his father’s estate, Finn Conrad becomes suspicious as to why the man left a nurse $50,000.”
Except – it was really $100,000. Their description still has it wrong as of this writing. (And it’s wrong on the TV listing for the movie.)
(That description on Hallmark’s site also wrongly states that Willa has recently taken over the bed and breakfast – but in the movie she only become a business partner by the end.)
😠 The WORST List 😠
Christmas With Molly
Can we talk about Molly?
Molly is crazypants.
Her character is all over the place. In the beginning, it’s all “Finn angry!” while Molly’s like, “chill, dude, we were never going to be in the will anyway.”
But once she hears the injunction isn’t happening, suddenly she’s convinced Willa is a liar.
Then after the inevitable confrontation, suddenly Molly is totally convinced she was wrong about Willa (because Willa cried and said so and stormed out of the room?).
Anyway, she ends up downstairs, sees a framed picture of her father as a child, and is all like, “I need to find Willa!”
This whole set-up just to get to a conflict felt contrived.
A Bramble House Christmas
If you’re looking for a cute and sweet movie, then definitely take a chance on Hallmark’s “A Bramble House Christmas.” This is a movie we plan to watch at least every couple of years.