ALL IS BRIGHT Starring Paul Giamatti & Paul Rudd - Now On DemandSeptember 11, 2013

ALL IS BRIGHT Starring Paul Giamatti & Paul Rudd - Now On Demand

ALL IS BRIGHT (Anchor Bay)

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: ALL IS BRIGHT (Anchor Bay).


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ALL IS BRIGHT
By Joe Charnitski

 

Since Labor Day is barely behind us you may not be ready for Christmas movies, but that shouldn’t keep you from watching director Phil Morrison’s (JUNEBUG) latest film, ALL IS BRIGHT. Yes, the title is taken from a lyric in the classic carol Silent Night, and, yes, the story does center around two French Canadian Christmas tree salesmen in New York City. No, this is not a heartwarming tale of miracles and elves and other wonderful lives.

Paul Giamatti (SIDEWAYS, JOHN ADAMS) plays Dennis, a recently paroled thief who wants nothing more than to start a fresh chapter of his life with his wife and daughter. Unfortunately for him, his wife a) doesn’t want anything to do with him, b) has told their daughter that her father died, and c) has found love with another man while Dennis was locked up. Think it can’t get worse for Dennis? The man who’s now dating his wife is his friend and fellow reformed thief Rene, played by Paul Rudd (THIS IS 40, ANCHORMAN).

Dennis confronts his friend and forces Rene to take him along as a partner on his annual trip to The Big Apple to sell Canadian trees to New Yorkers in search of that perfect holiday decoration. Thus begins their adventure together. Rene wants enough money to come back and propose to Dennis’ wife. Dennis wants to prove that he can thrive in a life above the law, hoping his family will want him back.

The set-up sounds pretty solid in synopsis form and the story is reasonably well constructed, if a little unsurprising. The guys meet some interesting metropolitan characters, the complexity of their relationship is revealed as time passes and the ups and downs of the tree business keep things moving along. The script does feel a little immature, though. The potential of the story is never quite fully developed, and therefore isn’t completely satisfying.

What makes the film worth checking out, though, are the performances. Morrison and his cast were successful in getting every worthwhile element out of this story. Giamatti carries a bitterness and jealousy with him throughout, but moments of shame and embarrassment spotlight the roots of all he’s struggling with. You’ll truly believe his heart is broken over his lost family.

Rudd brings his Peter Pan charm to the role, but with it is a vulnerability and well shaped good intentions. He’s got grand ideas for where his life could go, but little skill at being able to put the pieces together to make it happen. He seems to be fighting hard not to give in to the acrimony that has gotten a hold of Dennis.

 

Lastly is Sally Hawkins (HAPPY GO LUCKY, BLUE JASMINE) who plays Olga, a Russian woman who befriends and offers small kindnesses to Dennis. Maybe they are kindred spirits. Maybe she’s able to empathize with the suffering he wears like a mask. As always, Hawkins brings a vitality and authenticity to her role that only serves to lift the material to a better place.

The film is billed as a comedy, but there were only a few moments I genuinely laughed out loud. It won’t replace your holiday classics, and it’s slow pace may turn some viewers off. But a skilled director and a solid cast make it worth a try.

 

 

TRY IY

 

Joe Charnitski

 

Joe Charnitski
Joe Charnitski is a new contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. His career in film and television production, development and marketing has included stops at Miramax Films, Syfy and VH1. He currently works at a entertainment focused social media marketing agency in New York City. Twitter:@JoeCharnitski

 

LIBERAL ARTS (IFC Films) is now on demand.

 

Read Joe's Other Reviews...

I DECLARE WAR -  TRY IT 

Adrian Grenier's HOW TO MAKE MONEY SELLING DRUGS -  TRY IT 

THE AMBASSADOR DEMAND IT

AFGHAN LUKE  - TRY IT 

AMERICAN ANIMAL - TRY IT 

ON THE BOWERY DEMAND IT

STEVE JOBS: ONE LAST THING DEMAND IT

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