A grieving couple decide to foster a child after being told they cannot conceive. When seven year old Eli arrives at their door, their life changes in more ways than they could possibly have imagined.
From the start, Foster is a charming and touching affair. From initial sadness through struggle and strife and finally to a heart-warming conclusion, it ticks all the boxes and will appeal to all ages. Alec and Zooey, played winningly by the ever reliable Ioan Grufford and Toni Collette, are the sort of couple that everyone can root for. They work hard trying to achieve their dreams and are honest and decent people. You really want them to work out their troubles and succeed and little Eli is their salvation.
Maurice Cole, as the little boy who comes into their lives, is terrific. Although diminutive in size, he is the beating heart of the movie. An eccentric character with a wise old head on his shoulders, he takes Alec and Zooey by the hand and shows them how to recapture their youth and regain the spirit they once had. His performance has echoes of Jonathan Lipnicki in Jerry Maguire and he will no doubt become a very familiar face.
The appealing cast is rounded out by such veterans as Hayley Mills, Richard E. Grant and Anne Reid, all of whom lend the film a familiar and comforting feel. The world they inhabit is a cross between the fantasy London of Notting Hill and Mary Poppins. At once very familiar but essentially artificial, it has an old fashioned, nostalgic feel which harks back to the family films of the seventies when everything seemed so much simpler and less cynical.
You will probably work out the twist early on and Toni Collette and Anne Reid, bafflingly, sport Scottish accents. This does not detract from what is a charming family film and one which is destined to become a Christmas favourite.