2013 / Director. Phil Morrison.
The Christmas season has begun and that means you will start to see some festivally orientated films popping up on this site. The film-geek in me will only watch Christmas movies at - you guessed it - Christmas time. It doesn't feel right watching them at any other time of the year. And so to kick the season off I watched ALL IS BRIGHT. Now here's one misleading and unexpected film. The poster and it's star power would suggest a quirky Xmas comedy and the Australian title of ALMOST CHRISTMAS supports this assumption. "Comedy" is a very generous description because this is very much a dramatic story. Paul Giamatti plays an ex-con, Dennis, who has just been released from prison. He returns to his family to find out that his wife told their daughter he was dead. To add insult to injury she is dating his former partner in crime, Rene (Paul Rudd), the guy who put him in prison. With no money to his name Dennis has no option but to take work with Dennis. They hop in a truck and drive from Quebec to New York to sell Christmas trees on the street. Throughout the course of the film these two former pals contemplate their lives and work to overcome their own demons. There are hints of comedy in the movie but it's far from hilarious. The glum and depressing tone of the film lends itself to drama, and a fairly heavy one at that. Giamatti and Rudd are excellent and give honest and sincere performances. I found it refreshing to watch a Christmas film that strikes at the heart of the festive season without relying on feel-good, happy-pappy & overly sentimental manipulation. Disadvantage and finding hope within your means is the overlying theme of the movie and despite being a bleak and melancholic affair, I found it really gratifying.