Second-chance romances appear to be this year’s Christmas staple, and Lifetime’s A Country Christmas Harmony joins the ranks of the good ones. Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias duo Brandon Quinn and Brooke Elliott, partner again to showcase what it means to fight for someone and make things right, bringing a whole lot of warmth to the spirit of Christmas. The couple also gives off Rayna and Deacon vibes from ABC’s Nashville, and if you’re a fan of either series, this film will work for you.
A Country Christmas Harmony has it all—mutual pining, gingerbread lattes, forced proximity, cozy holiday decorations, dances in the moonlight, and music that works delightfully. When Chrissy Kessler’s (Elliott) latest holiday hit is a flop, her manager insists that she return home to Cedar Pines to put on a heartfelt Christmas show there. The problem is Chrissy hasn’t been back home since she left for Nashville, leaving her boyfriend and music partner, Luke Covington (Quinn), behind with a letter.
Before we discuss Chrissy and Luke’s relationship, it’s necessary to mention that A Country Christmas Harmony also features an adorable LGBTQ couple with Chrissy’s assistant, Eugene (Danny Pintauro), and his husband, Mitchell (Giancarlo Sabogal). While Eugene and Mitchell aren’t at the forefront of the romance, the film still (and thankfully) gives them multiple sweet moments full of longing and ample heart.
The fact that Mitchell and Eugene get to spend Christmas together for the first time in five years is enough to fill viewers with all the feels because their reunion is an absolute joy. This way, the story also brings great friendships to our screen with people who aren’t just co-workers but a genuine, found family.
The second-chance romance trope isn’t easy to master. It relies heavily on show, don’t tell, and in the case of a transient, hour and a half-film, the screenplay, directing, and performers need to find solid balance in allowing us to see what’s between the lines. Elliott and Quinn’s chemistry does most of the heavy lifting, but thankfully, the screenplay works well with them. It takes all the best tropes and blends them, making it abundantly clear that the friendship between Chrissy and Luke is the fortified tether that binds them. It helps that his grandmother and nephew meddle too.
What we see through their relationship are tiny moments equating to grand gestures showcasing how much the other has always meant to them. Chrissy holds onto the lock pick he stole back in high school, and Luke keeps her success close to his heart. The detail that they’ve always been a part of each other seeps into every scene they share, binding them closer today with their past and present intermingling gorgeously.
They make a deal to write a song together for her label, and in return, she’s supposed to perform at his grandmother’s annual Christmas party. It’s relatively simple, but the emotions stirring within them and the difficulties don’t work as efficiently. Still, she holds her end (despite the snowstorm), and in the end, a song is born from memories of their past. Success meets them after failure.
Resentment is a prominent emotion in the first few moments, but it becomes impossible to uphold when they start bonding. In a warm scene by the fire after transparent conversations and a heartfelt apology, Luke says, “How can I resent my past when you’re my past, Chrissy?” This declaration and Quinn’s heartfelt line delivery is the moment it becomes clear that they’re two people with adoration that burns deep inside them. While conversations about their past could sometimes border on cheesy territory, the performances make them feel incredibly organic, sincere, and vulnerable.
(Seriously, Sweet Magnolias men are acing it with the holiday films this year. First Justin Bruening in Reindeer Games Homecoming, then Brandon Quinn here? Someone cast Dion Johnstone in a Christmas film stat.)
The film ends on a musical high note with the kind of Christmas song I’m hoping Lifetime actually releases. Some of us (me) need to add “Sweet Sixteen Christmas” to our never-ending holiday playlists. The nudging to have Luke sing with her was downright precious, and while I wish he had joined in, it’s also lovely that he chose to allow the moment to be entirely hers, followed by the decision to tell her that he’d follow her everywhere.
Personally, I’ll always prefer staying in the small town, but the heroine getting the guy and her career is always a big, big win. Lifetime’s A Country Christmas Harmony nails the romance with its emotional beats, tender moments, and all the holiday feels. It’s a crime that the film isn’t longer because while the third-act breakup/miscommunication trope is better done than I was expecting, I would still prefer to see more of Chrissy and Luke and his family. Still, it’s a lovely, believable story that also naturally plays with the celebrity in a small trope. By the end, chances are your heart will be a little more happier than it was before watching.
A Country Christmas Harmony is now streaming on Frndly TV.