Dolly Parton goes home for the holidays. A lot of white people pretend to sing. A black choir shows up right at the end just to show you how white the whole thing was. It was like when Lena Dunham added Donald Glover in the second season of Girls.
Austrian child chorus sings of attachment issues, projects dead mother issues onto attractive nun, navigates a backdrop of facism in fine fashion (drapes, knickerbockers, florals, wool overcoats), misdirects frustration with authoritarian father struggling with his unaddressed grief, are passed from nanny to nanny until they find the one whose identity they can subsume entirely, have no apparent outside social network, are probably hiking at the end to a slave labour camp for dancing musical orphans.
This movie always plays at Christmas because that’s when the mom dies, every single year. The snowy horse ride, handmade Memorial Dead Mom Quilt created by Julia Roberts’ very fingers, and apple-cheeked children cannot keep the mom from dying, but on the plus side, stage four cancer distracts everybody from the toxic dynamic of their blended family. Snowfall brings soft atmosphere lighting, gentle regret, sweet gift exchanges, and a replacement-mom marriage proposal. I still don’t know what the sexual act “snow blowing” that Julia Roberts mentions to a young child refers to, but it sounds appropriately festive.