“I’m the Jewish Nancy Drew,” Sara Levin (Inbar Lavi) announces as she tries to figure out which of her many suitors sends her anonymous gifts each night of Hanukkah. Is it Paul, her workaholic ex? Tom, her co-chair on the Hanukkah Ball planning committee? Adam, the geeky millionaire startup dude who tries too hard? Or maybe it’s Nigel, the chipper celebrity chef? She goes on a lot of dates and drinks a lot of coffee.
Sara is an optometrist at Eye See You, a wink to the fact that she can’t see her love life clearly at all. It’s also hard to see why so many men seem to adore her, since her personality consists of staring at a picture of her beloved grandmother, bragging about how popular she is and half-heartedly flirting.
“I don’t want the game to end,” he tells Sara, apparently serious. He later comes close to confessing his true feelings while getting an eye exam.
“It feels weird, doing this with you,” Sara murmurs as she points a laser toward his eye.
Daniel and Sara have romantic tension thicker than most latkes, which only builds as she gets more gifts, each more personal than the last: A music box! A watch! New glasses! Who is this dream man?
Meanwhile, she has lots to live up to: Her parents have been married for 37 years, and her mom’s a judge—something that naturally comes up in every conversation—who wants the absolute best for her daughter. Her dad, meanwhile, is the ideal husband, and her parents still act like they’re on their first date.
“This guy is almost as wonderful as your father,” her mother murmurs as Sara gushes about her latest gift. Almost.
The guessing game is actually compelling until the ruse ends early, when the paramour in question abruptly confesses his feelings and tells her that she smells good even when she sweats, which is a compliment. In an awkward climax, her many suitors all converge at the Hanukkah Ball, where she breaks up with each of them—except her secret admirer!—one by one.
Because this is a Hallmark movie, there are also requisite appearances by: a fawning best friend who wants to know the details of every date, a protective but bland older brother, a cherubic niece who worships Aunt Sara and long winter coats that would put Nicole Kidman in “The Undoing” to shame.
The movie’s mystery element adds a different twist, but the confession happens too early on. There’s just no reason to keep watching, and really, you’ll probably be able to guess the identity of the gift-giver with your eyes closed.
“Eight Gifts of Hanukkah” is playing on Hallmark Channel, with additional showtimes through Dec. 31.