Hallmark’s A Kismet Christmas starring Sarah Ramos (Parenthood) and Carlo Marks (Chesapeake Shores), honors literature and fan fiction while telling a friends-to-lovers second-chance romance that surprisingly works despite the corny dialogue at times.
A Kismet Christmas opens up with writer Sarah Grace (Ramos) reading an excerpt from her latest book to a group of kids at a bookstore. Her agent, Benny (Zahf Paroo), reveals that the contest winner will be announced in person, sending Sarah to her hometown in New Britain. However, the last time she was there, the legend of the kismet cookie failure and a humiliating moment with her neighbor Travis (Marks) ran her straight out of town. From that moment, it’s a second-chance romance writing itself, and the film sticks the landing to the very end with a whole lot of longing sprinkled throughout.
For starters, during the entire film, Ramos and Marks have excellent chemistry that moves the story along, but the two should not have played their younger selves as well. That’s the moment where the dialogue and staging made me the most uncomfortable, essentially stopping the film from being a five-star feature.
Still, when the two reunite unexpectedly later, their bond is effortless and utterly swoon-worthy, prompting tooth-grinning excitement in the spirit of Christmas. The kismet cookie dream prediction aside, Sarah and Travis are a lot of fun, sweet, and rightfully suited to be partners with the film showing the audience their romance’s strength instead of telling us what we should believe. We see it all. We don’t need a cookie to prove it.
Additionally, while I initially assumed that Jazzy’s mother and Travis’ former wife was dead because that’s the route Hallmark frequently takes, it turns out that she left them to travel with her band. However, giving the writing credit is necessary here because the narrative doesn’t vilify her for her decision. Travis explicitly states that there are no bad guys here, and they’re both doing what they love while ensuring their daughter knows they adore her. In films like this, more often than not, the woman would be vilified for choosing her career, but here, it’s not only perfectly normalized as it should be, but Travis talks about her with great respect. This detail immediately makes him incredible as a man and makes it much lovelier to root for his second chance: A+ move, Hallmark.
As the self-proclaimed “second chance” trope expert, A Kismet Christmas nails both the emotional beats and the hilariously heartwarming ones that touch on longing and vulnerability. At one point, Travis insists that she go tree cutting with him but instead, he takes her to his family cabin, takes her phone, and suggests that she take the time to write to fight her block. (WHERE DO I FIND A TRAVIS!?!?!!) Like during old times when he’d be there as she spoke of stories with him, he tells her that he’ll be there for her to jump ideas off of in a cozy cabin while he makes garland.
It’s likewise highly admirable that the film praises fan fiction and how writing can make people who they are because it allows the creative freedom to choose for themselves. The fact that Travis is proud of his kid for essentially writing Isabella fan fiction while Sarah encourages Jazzy is incredibly refreshing. It’s also super sweet that when they were younger, reading the fan fiction she wrote in notebooks inspired him actually to pick up A Wrinkle in Time and read it. He doesn’t shame Sarah or his daughter for writing; instead, he thoroughly embraces it, reserving the mocking only for the bear incident. Travis Walker and Parks and Recreation’s Ben Wyatt could get along, folks. Let’s also talk about the most accurate line throughout this film which is Sarah telling her agent Benny “I’m a writer. I’m needy and thin-skinned.” And I literally screamed, yes, out loud. Because it’s true. We are needy.
Ultimately, A Kismet Christmas is a story about what being someone’s rock looks like and how an authentic partnership relies on transparency. We see this idea of being each other’s rocks come to life during their trivia night, the tree cutting, the former brainstorming spot, the cabin, and, of course, at the end. There’s a moment in the film where Sarah physically clutches Travis when Benny’s about to give her news on whether or not he likes her manuscript. And he relies on her when it comes to taking Jazzy to her first sleepover as he struggles with the idea of his daughter growing up. These quiet beats throughout the film (as well as others) allow us to see how leaning on each other inspires them to become better versions of themselves, which is what the healthiest kind of love should always illuminate.
Similar Christmas Film Recommendations: Noel Next Door starring Natalie Hall and Corey Sevier and Falling For Christmas starring Lindsay Lohan and Chord Overstreet
The bond between Travis and Sarah is all around electric as the past bleeds into the present, with the story about the bear coming full circle in the end. This time, Travis will not be getting married Christmas morning (though I wish we knew how that whole thing happened under Sarah’s nose and why Travis kept it from her when she first arrived). Nevertheless, it’s a second chance well done with great characters throughout, and one to which I won’t mind a sequel, like the Isabella series.
A Kismet Christmas is now streaming on Frndly TV.