Hallmark’s ‘Love, Lights, Hanukkah!’ is the cheesy holiday movie: Review
This year’s effort entitled “Love, Lights, Hanukkah!” is different. Is it cheesy? Sure. It’s a Hallmark holiday movie, after all. But it also centers Hanukkah traditions and their symbolism, as well as the Jewish characters who celebrate them.
An Italian restaurant owner still reeling from the loss of her adoptive mother and a broken engagement, Christina takes a DNA test to learn more about her background. She finds out she has Eastern European Jewish ancestry and that some close relatives, the Bermans, live nearby.
It turns out that they’re more closely related than she thought when Ruth Berman reveals she is Christina’s biological mother. Both drawn to Ruth and desperate to hold onto the memory of her mother, Christina navigates a new family and a new holiday while honoring the Christmas traditions she was raised with.
There’s also the matter of David (played by Ben Savage), a restaurant critic who gave Christina’s lasagna a less-than-enthusiastic review but is a fixture at the Bermans’ Hanukkah gatherings as a family friend. You can probably guess how that one ends. Their bland romance is the film’s weakest point — the warm, lively Bermans make for a far more compelling storyline.
Interfaith identities can feel particularly complex during the winter holiday season with several distinct, widely celebrated religious holidays in close proximity, but the film treats Hanukkah as more than just a foil to Christmas.
The Bermans take the time to educate Christina, and thereby the audience, about the origins of Hanukkah, lighting a menorah, preparing latkes, and playing dreidel. They ask David when he’s going to settle down and tell Christina what a cute couple they’d make, an accurate portrayal of a Jewish family if I’ve ever seen one. And the miraculous nature of the holiday is an overarching theme of the film. In one scene, as Ruth shows Christina her dreidel collection, she gazes lovingly at her long-lost daughter and explains that the letters on each of a dreidel’s sides stand for “a great miracle happened there.”