The Man Who Invented Christmas ★★

t’s only been a few short weeks since Winnie the Pooh got the “Shakespeare in Love” treatment in “Goodbye Christopher Robin” — a film that inspired this critic to lament that “we used to tell stories; now we just tell stories about how we used to tell stories” — which means that we’re already long overdue for another saccharine period fable about the creation of another literary icon. Enter Ebenezer Scrooge, who came to Charles Dickens at a moment when both men were at a low point in their lives.

The year was 1843, the great author (a manic Dan Stevens) was 31, and his massive fame was ebbing in the wake of three consecutive flops. With the winter settling in and a certain lifestyle to maintain, Dickens was in desperate need of a Christmas miracle. There was only one problem: There hadn’t been a Christmas miracle in almost 1,843 years. You see, Victorian England didn’t make much of a to-do about December 25th, its people marking the occasion with a degree of enthusiasm that’s typically reserved for the likes of Palm Sunday. Until, that is, the era’s most beloved novelist had a vision that broke him free from his writer’s block and changed Western culture forever: What if the birth of Jesus could be used to sell people things for profit?