I'm not sure I'd want to meet the person who isn't completely enthralled by Jessie and the Elf Boy, a spirited and magical cinematic experience for the entire family centered around a solitary forest elf named Ghillie Dhu (Huck Whittle) who becomes friends with a lost little girl named Jessie in the forest. When she is rather abruptly whisked away by her mother, he sets out on a quest to find his long lost companion.
It is years later when Ghillie Dhu crosses paths with Jessie once again, now a young adult determined to win favor with her mother by becoming a successful hair stylist in her salon. The two form a unique partnership that leaves Jessie on the verge of realizing her dreams, though it remains to be seen if satisfying those dreams will be enough to resolve the long conflicted relationship she shares with her mother.
Jessie and the Elf Boy is a warm, whimsical film inspired by Scottish legend that passionately, and quite engagingly, embraces its Scottish roots while also sharing an entertaining and universal story easily understood by all. The film is a Dove-approved film for all ages, a film ideal for viewing by the entire family.
There are films that you fall in love with almost immediately. Jessie and the Elf Boy is such a film for me, a film so completely filled with rich humanity, gentle humor, and tremendous heart that I was easily swept up in its world and enjoyed surrendering to it for the entirety of its 83-minute running time. While it's undeniably challenging producing such a magical, whimsical tale within the confines of a modest budget, director Philip Todd has wondrously constructed the story (which he co-wrote alongside Matthew Todd and Lindsey Stirling) with an emphasis on these delightful characters and their relationships.
It all starts with Ghillie Dhu, played to perfection by young Scottish actor/singer Huck Whittle, a fearlessly endearing elf whose fantastic existence also feels earthy and grounded. This is such a difficult performance, yet Whittle brings Ghillie Dhu to life so beautifully that you'll find yourself believing as well.
As Jessie, Julia Brown captures the essence of a young woman who has lived for years rejected by her mother (Gail Watson) and who now finds herself even more intensely rejected by the salon's manager. Yet, Brown also captures Jessie's essential hopefulness and determination even as Ghillie Dhu begins messing more than a few things up in an effort to help her.
As the story unfolds in Jessie and the Elf Boy, additional truths come to light and as additional truths are revealed and conflicts confronted the film never loses its mystical wonder while also bringing to life wonderful lessons about healing, family, and belief. The ending, which I certainly won't reveal here, is both realistic yet unexpected and brings to close Jessie and the Elf Boy in such a heartfelt, authentic way that I couldn't help but smile and may very well have shed a tear.
David Shaw's original music is both culturally appropriate and a perfect complement to the film's rhythms. Cinematography by Elliot Wallis is both energized yet warm and relational. In a film so dependent upon setting an atmosphere, Elle Prudence does wonders with production design and Lorna Stirling works wonders with the film's imaginative yet character-appropriate costume design.
It's true. It's simply true. I can't imagine wanting to meet the person who doesn't embrace Jessie and the Elf Boy, the latest Entertainment Squad release that is refreshingly pure in spirit and filled with heart, humor, and humanity. A contemporary fairy tale for the young and young at heart, Jessie and the Elf Boy is a magical experience from beginning to end.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic