"Lost Holiday" a poignant family drama

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In the genre of holiday movies, television usually goes for something a little more lighthearted than this.

Lifetime’s “Lost Holiday: The Jim and Suzanne Shemwell Story” is tough going for most its airtime, but it still captures the holiday spirit with its feel-good ending. Based on the true story of an Idaho couple who are stranded in a blizzard for a few days, this “Holiday” takes viewers on a roller-coaster ride instead of the smooth path down to Santa’s. It’s a welcome change.

Jami Gertz and Dylan Walsh star as the estranged couple who have been separated for two years. When Walsh decides to visit Gertz and their two daughters for Christmas, it isn’t exactly a rosy visit at first. Then Walsh and Gertz decide to go snowmobiling in the mountains. When their excursion turns into a life-threatening mishap, they are faced not only with the challenge to stay alive but also to confront the reasons for their separation. In the spirit of Christmas, of course, a cheery ending prevails.

Director-writer Gregory Goodell infuses as much action as he can into this otherwise rather static drama. The photography, by Craig Wrobleski, is spectacular because he has all that brilliant sunlight to play around with. The film’s natural beauty is stunning. Bridget Durnford’s editing is fast-paced and therefore integral to the story’s spirit.

Gertz and Walsh are more than believable as the estranged couple. Gertz always seems to give her all to a part. Her character here (as well as Walsh’s) has to take a back seat to the physical landscape around them, but when the camera gets close enough, both actors give strong performances.


Suzanne Shemwell: Jami Gertz

Jim Shemwell: Dylan Walsh

Producers: Chad Oakes, Mike Frislev; Director-teleplay: Gregory Goodell; Director of photography: Craig Wrobleski; Production designer: Trevor Smith; Music: Ron Ramin; Editor: Bridget Durnford; Casting director: Jackie Lind.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter