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I’m easy to please when it comes to Christmas rom-coms — festive music and over-the-top decorations are enough to put me in the mood of the season.
A Castle for Christmas met both of those criteria and provided two more elements to delight me.
A Castle for Christmas features an older couple than most movies of this genre.
Brooke Shields plays Sophie Brown, a best-selling US author who needs a get-away. She angered the fans of her long-running series by killing off one of their favorite characters.
Sophie chooses to go to the location in Scotland that was the source of her father’s best stories. That puts her in the path of a duke who is barely keeping his castle going with guided tours and gift shop sales.
The duke is played by Cary Elwes. Remember Westley from The Princess Bride (1987)? Of course, he’s done lots of stuff since then in both the UK and the US.
The setting in Scotland
A Castle for Christmas is set in Scotland. Lots of Christmas rom-coms feature castles (all the better for over-the-top decorations). But, most of them are set in fictional kingdoms. The vibe is often a blend of British and Germanic, with a lot of snow.
The warm and inviting castle from the title was filmed on location at Dalmeny House west of Edinburgh, overlooking the Firth of Forth. In non-pandemic times, guided tours are available of this 19th century Gothic Revival building. The architect, William Wilkins, also designed the National Gallery.
Like Sophie Brown, I absolutely fell in love with the library in the castle.
The neighborhood pub is cozy and warm, complete with a fireplace and lots of amber-colored whiskey.
The Scottish landscapes are craggy and beautiful.
I did notice a couple of errors in the Britishness of the story. The male lead character is a duke. He calls himself ‘royal.’ In Britain, royal dukes are members of the royal family. All other dukes are members of the aristocracy, but they aren’t royal. He also mentions that his first wife left him to marry a grander title. The duke is the grandest title in the British aristocracy. To move up, his first wife would have married a prince or a king.
According to the Daily Record, Scots are largely unimpressed with the movie — starting with the bad Scottish accent by the lead male actor, Cary Elwes. They were insulted that the real Scottish actors were given subtitles. Also, apparently, at least one of the Scottish slang words that the duke teaches Sophie is much naughtier than implied in the movie. So, don’t use this film as a guide of words that it’s appropriate to say if you should ever find yourself talking to a Scottish duke.
Which Christmas rom-coms are you recommending this year?