Spoilers ahead! Hallmark’s Christmas at Pemberley Manor (2018) is an entertaining retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813). The movie follows event planning assistant Elizabeth Bennett (Jessica Lowndes), as she organizes her first solo project, a small-town Christmas festival. An issue with the venue leads her to approach Mr. William Darcy (Michael Rady), the owner of Pemberley Manor, and convince him to let them use the property for the town festival. Elizabeth’s main goal is to find her “one true love,” and Pemberley Manor’s caretaker, who is revealed to be Santa, wants to help her make this wish come true. The movie explores the disparity between demanding bosses and well-meaning hard-working employees. The main narrative tension happens near the end, when Caroline (Elizabeth’s boss) tells her that everything she is doing is wrong and that she needs to take over. Caroline wants to build a working relationship with him to establish a partnership with his company. Unlike in the novel, Caroline is neither related to a friend of Mr. Darcy’s nor romantically interested in him, although she does still interfere in Mr. Darcy’s budding relationship with Elizabeth. Through these different working relationships, Elizabeth learns to overcome her prejudice and Mr. Darcy’s benevolent character is revealed.
Charity and goodwill are key messages to this movie. The relationship between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth brings out the holiday spirit in both of them. Mr. Darcy’s initial approach to charity doesn’t allow him to even go out to a tree lighting. He explains that “it’s best to keep a low profile… I want people to focus on the tree… not me.” However, his humility is perceived as a sign that he does not want to take part in Christmas events with others. Santa–who goes by Christopher before his real identity is revealed–tells Darcy that “Christmas is not about watching the festivities from a window.” Elizabeth’s and Santa’s Christmas cheer encourages Mr. Darcy to act against financial motivations and preserve Pemberley Manor, which becomes a symbol of Christmas tradition and spirit. Ultimately, Santa encourages Darcy to act on his feelings and imparts the vital lesson that “it’s time to believe in the magic of the Holidays. You can get what you wish for… but you have to ask.”