Saturday, December 6, 2014

All Is Bright

Often times, we look to Christmas movies to make us laugh, like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  Other times, we look for a warm, sweet trickle of Christmas warmth, like Miracle on 34th St.

However, maybe we should look for movies that not only depress us, but make us dislike all the characters as well. In that case, let's dust off the DVD player and pop in what will surely (not) become a Christmas favorite, All Is Bright!

The movie starts with Dennis (Paul Giamatti) just getting out of prison for robbery. He's got no job, no money, and his ex-wife told their daughter he had died of cancer. To top it off, Dennis's old partner-in-crime, Rene (Paul Rudd) is dating the ex-wife. So, they've nicely set up the happy premise. 
But Dennis plans on getting his wife back by going straight. To do this, he and Rene head down to New York with a truckload of Christmas trees to sell. Let's just say, it doesn't get any wackier than that.

There are a lot of Christmas movies out there that start with a down and out hero. This is usually so they can redeem themselves and we can cheer them on. In the case of All Is Bright, Dennis is such an out-and-out criminal it's hard to really like him at all. And we can't even blame that on how Paul Giamatti looks like an angry 18th century seaman in this film.

I'm just impressed by that much facial hair
There are times when Giamatti can actually look really sympathetic and likable.

Ok, not this. But, trust me. He can be likable.
To balance his thuggery, we have Rene. He's also decided to hang up the life of crime and go straight. He's the guy trying to his best to be good. Part of this involves him constantly chatting to  Dennis's ex on the phone right in front of Dennis, and just being a terrible businessman in general.

A real nice guy all around.
They even throw in a Russian woman who buys a tree and, in her cold Russian way, helps Dennis to cope with his problems. Of course, when Dennis and Rene have a good day of selling Christmas trees, she brings a bottle of vodka to toast with.

Aside from all the cast, every scene in the movie is softly scored by jazz or Christmas music, while people don't smile. They look vacantly into the distance, showing us how tortured they are. In one scene where Dennis's daughter gives her mom a piece of chocolate from an advent calender, there are still no smiles.
Mmm. The story of our lord is 70% cacao.
You just get the feeling that this is another one of those movies made with the explicit purpose of winning an award at Cannes or Sundance. Those movies never have people who smile in them.

FINAL SCORE- 107 shots of vodka. One for each minute of my Christmas holiday I lost by watching this movie.

No comments:

Post a Comment