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All Is Bright (2013)

by on 2014/12/07

All_Is_Bright_2013“Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up.”

* * *

At one point, I was struck by the thought, “Gee, it is nice to hear Americans pretending to be Canadians for a change, instead of the other way around.”

It was particularly nice seeing my beloved Paul Giamatti doing such a lovely job in his turn as Dennis, a brooding ex-con turned angry Christmas tree seller on the streets of Brooklyn.

It was sort of a Maritimes-meets-Fargo accent, sure. But Giamatti and Paul Rudd (I Love You, Man) were really, really trying. And that means something to us Canadians, eh? T’ank ya fer carin’ so much to learn aboot our ways there, my son.

Based on the great script written by Canadian writer Melissa James Gibson, this film made me appreciate the effort and the Paul Giamatti of it all.

I would watch Paul Giamatti filing paperwork for silent minutes, and have during his brilliant portrayal as Harvey Pekar in American Splendor. It was entertaining, though sad, watching Giamatti in this film boil with rage as he road trips his way to New York with babbling, simpleton Rene (Rudd),  a man who also happens to have stolen Dennis’ wife and daughter while his was in jail.

I so like films that showcase strange personalities and unexpected events. There were absolutely no tropes or holiday chestnuts on display in this film – just bunch of weird, sad stuff that happens. And I guess that forms the heart of my problem. You so want something good to happen to Dennis. Because maybe I love Paul Giamatti just a bit too much.

Olga (Sally Hawkins) is one of those weird, sad (and almost sweet) characters that happens to Dennis. Hawkins is charmingly great as well-heeled Russian lady of means who lives in an affluent dentist house. She’s also the film’s deus ex machina or angel of (a kind of) redemption. Sort of.

In fact, there are a lot of ‘sort of’ moments. That makes for not a lot of emotional satisfaction in this Christmas movie. Things don’t turn out exactly like you’d hope.

I wanted an all-is-bright moment for Dennis. Instead, his moment was more a murky shade of burnished grey, sort of like the colour of the filthy slush on a Canadian street corner.

(It *was* fun to hear Paul Giamatti tell a rambling Paul Rudd to “shut up” though).

* * *

107 minutes

Rated R for language and brief nudity

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