Sometimes it’s true, and you really can go home again.
A Country Christmas Harmony was such a delightful film, and Brooke Elliott and Brandon Quinn were amazing together.
But then, any fan of Sweet Magnolias knows how fantastic their chemistry is. Getting to see them in another project together during the offseason is a gift from Santa himself. We must’ve all been on the nice list to deserve this treat!
Who doesn’t love a second-chance-at-love story? It’s a classic, and the film captured the subgenre beautifully and had you rooting for these two to find their way back to one another from the second Chrissy teetered past Luke at his bar.
But there was so much pain, hurt, and baggage to unpack before they could proceed with their second shot at love with each other. It wasn’t easy for them to work their way through all of that, either.
But before we get into Chrissy and Luke as an entity, we must discuss Chrissy as her own character. One of the best parts about Chrissy was how genuinely flawed she was.
She wasn’t a perfect person. She stumbled, made mistakes, was quick to react, and she was the one who had to make some amends and prove herself in many ways.
A Country Christmas Harmony was a perfect example of how a film can succeed at its heroine doing the work to gain or regain the hero’s trust and work to win him over without losing all the wonderful qualities that make these love stories endearing and special.
Again, Chrissy was by no means a bad person, but she made some mistakes, hurt people she cared about, namely Luke, and she was just so real as someone who ran, unapologetically followed her dreams, tried to keep up with the times and keep that dream alive, and so much more.
And I don’t know about you, but it was easy to connect with Chrissy because of all these things and Elliott’s nuanced portrayal of her.
The opener perfectly set the tone for some things that Chrissy would have to face as the film progressed. We all know how fickle the entertainment industry is and how difficult it is to stay ahead of it as an artist, particularly as a woman, especially one over 30, which seems insane when you think about it, but it’s true.
The struggle to keep up with the trends and stay relevant is a constant battle for artists, and Chrissy was dealing with that fate and found herself on the wrong side of irrelevant, on a fast track toward fading fast in the eyes of the industry and her fans.
Her Reindeer track was poorly received and too try-hard, and it was something that had her on the last leg of her career unless she could pull something out of her hat to catapult her back to relevancy again.
Understandably, she was down in the dumps about this. It’s not easy or fun to see your dream fading away before your eyes.
The last-ditch effort that could make or break the rest of her career relied on Chrissy doing the thing she dreaded most, returning to her hometown to put on a special holiday concert and premiere a new song that didn’t even exist yet!
And that’s where the movie picked up steam, playing heavily with the age-old adage about whether or not a person can go home again.
Interestingly enough, returning to Cedar Pines didn’t come with the expected family component that has become all too familiar. While Chrissy’s parents were referenced a few times, they no longer lived there, and she didn’t see them nor expect to spend the holidays with them.
For Chrissy, facing home had deeper roots that tied in with this beautiful place she loved so much that it could’ve easily trapped her there and kept her from pursuing her dreams and her best friend/singing and songwriting partner/love of her life, too.
Cedar Pines and even this film had a different meaning, which was a unique spin on what one would typically anticipate.
And it was interesting to see the Chrissy of the present, including her best friend and assistant, the perceptive Eugene facing off with the Chrissy of the past, including her best friend/old flame, Luke.
Both men knew her so well in such different stages of her life, but they were still very attuned to her. Ten years is a long time to be away from someone, but there was such an easy familiarity that Chrissy and Luke fell into even when they were most tumultuous.
They had such a profound history, and as we began to unpack it, it was easy to fall in love with them and hope that they worked things out.
But it wasn’t without its challenges, and while both of them were incredibly likable characters, one couldn’t help feeling the most sympathetic toward Luke.
The revelation that Chrissy broke up with Luke via letter, left him on Christmas morning, and never reached out and looked back was so shocking and, at first glance, unforgivable.
Any person with a heart would be nursing an utterly shattered one, and things only got harder for Luke over time, particularly when his sister died. He wound up adopting his nephew and raising him as his own while running his sister’s bar.
Life wasn’t the kindest to Luke, but he had beautiful things in it regardless.
But how does one get over what Chrissy did to him? Luke did well honoring his persistent grandmother’s wishes by sitting down to dinner with Chrissy and attempting to reconnect.
Even though Luke moved on over time, and he could admit much later that he made peace with some of what she did, it was still a sensitive topic, and it had the two of them on edge multiple times until they could have an honest conversation about everything.
They danced around the events of that incident for a bit while they were reminiscing, and every little story about their adventures of doing whatever they could to get onstage or the good times they had together was enough to make you smile at the Girl and Boy Next Door sweetness of their time.
And the crazy thing is that they managed to have that type of relationship that blossomed into genuine love until they were 28.
It was shocking but refreshing to learn that Chrissy didn’t get her big break and leave for Nashville until then. It made her a late bloomer in the industry and added perspective to her decision.
Of course, once she shared how her parents bought her that one-way ticket to Nashville so she could take her chance, it was easy to sympathize with Chrissy in that situation too.
Chrissy loved Luke so much there was no way she’d ever leave if she had to face him. He had such a strong hold on her that she would’ve stayed. She wasn’t going to fold for this man, and I respect that, even though that man was Luke, and looked and sounded like Luke, and stared at her like Luke.
And sure, maybe she would’ve been happy for a while being with the man she so clearly loved, but she’d have also spent more than her fair share of time wondering “what if,” and worse yet, resenting him.
Although, as Luke poignantly stated in the most swoonworthy line of the hour, how could he resent his past when she was part of it? Ideally, Chrissy would’ve felt the same way.
Their conversation was a game-changer and a turning point for the two of them and their ability to make proper amends and movie forward. At least Luke could understand things better when he heard her reasoning and why she did it the way she did.
The sincere apology didn’t hurt matters either. Luke may have been her singing and songwriting partner, but he never wanted to leave Cedar Pines, so they had two conflicting life plans, and both loved each other enough not to want the other to forego theirs for the other person.
It was also a turning point in truly appreciating Chrissy’s character as a woman and how she fought for and didn’t want to give up on her dreams. It’s far too common for women to sacrifice their desires for what society pressures us to prioritize.
It sucked that she cut ties with Luke for a decade, but I can respect this brilliant, talented, beautiful, ambitious woman who didn’t sacrifice her desires and dreams for a guy, even if that man was the love of her life.
And that stayed consistent with the ending as well when Chrissy knew she wanted to be with Luke and would make it work as best as she could without sacrificing her career. Instead, Luke opted to move himself and Brandon to Nashville to be with her because he wanted that fresh start and love.
Given the theme, the film didn’t have as much music as one would’ve imagined or the hints of Country either, but there was enough to appreciate.
The best part was when the two of them collaborated, and Luke wrote that lovely song about their love story and his desire for it to continue, which she answered in kind with the addition of her lyrics.
They make beautiful music together. Brooke Elliott sounds lovely, and Brandon Quinn crooning with a guitar is a sensory pleasure.
The sentimentality of the stolen guitar pick was the kind of thing that gave you all the warm fuzzies, too.
While the misunderstanding with Chrissy’s ex, Brad, who referred to himself in the third person, felt a bit contrived and unnecessary, I did appreciate that he wasn’t trying to intervene with what was clearly Chrissy reconnecting with Luke.
He didn’t attempt to make it a weird and unnecessary love triangle, and he was gone as quickly as he came, leaving on great terms with his ex in the process, too.
As for Luke, all it took was the underrated yet dynamic duo of Grandma Pearl and Brandon to get him into gear and back on that stage, letting Chrissy know he wasn’t missing his second chance to be with her again.
Brandon was such a precious character and funny to boot. And Grandma Pearl played the meddlesome maternal figure well. Chrissy and Luke couldn’t have managed anything without those two.
Brandon and the pair had some cute moments together, too. Chrissy helping Brandon land the girl he had a crush on was such a cute moment.
Eugene was a solid supporting character, too, and I loved his friendship with Chrissy. But his best moment of all was when he reunited with his husband.
No wonder Eugene and Chrissy got along so well. They have scrumptious taste in men. Both of their guys were hot as hell, sweet as pie, and hopelessly in love with them.
We love to see a dynamic duo winning.
Seriously, accolades toward obvious talent aside, and to take a moment to indulge in some shallow thirst: congratulations on Brandon Quinn and Giancarlo Sabogal’s everything. The weather outside may or may not be frightful, but they most definitely are not.
A girl was looking, respectfully. Ahem; where were we now?
Right. And we love to see a love story succeed. Chrissy and Luke felt like real people dealing with real problems and trying to navigate normal issues that can arise.
They were grown folks addressing real issues in a mature manner that felt relatable, and I loved every second of that.
Plus, you cannot go wrong with either Brooke Elliott or Brandon Quinn on their own. Both of whom I would watch in pretty much anything individually. You bring them together, and they’re freaking magic!
Cozy Cocoa Thoughts:
- Brooke Elliott is just so gorgeous and just lights up the screen.
- Whoever is responsible for having Luke in those sweaters, henleys, and flannel did the Lord’s work. May their cocoa always be hot and full of marshmallows, their fuzzy socks always warm, and their Christmas cookies perfectly baked and frosted.
- The reindeer bicycle was absolutely hilarious and cute.
- I will describe Brandon Quinn as “6’2, eyes that light up a room, and a jawline that could chop down a Christmas tree” for the rest of my days. It could not have been a more apt description.
- “How can I resent my past whhen you are my past” is such an iconic, swoonworthy line that hit me right in the feelings. My goodness our leading man was leading, wasn’t he?
- I love that Luke got inspired to write an entire song based on the blanket that he loved seeing Chrissy wrapped up in. Ugh, he was down so bad for Chrissy.
- The kiss was everything. EVERYTHING.
- Please, let Brooke Elliott lead all the things. ALL. THE. THINGS.
- We didn’t have nearly enough of Grandma Pearl and Brandon.
Over to you, Lifetime Fanatics. Did you love this film? What are your thoughts about it? Sound off below.
If you’re a Grey’s Anatomy fan excited about another reunion, or you wanted to tune into another Christmas flick with a Sweet Magnolias alum, you can watch Reindeer Games Homecoming and read our review.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.