The new film from Phil Morrison (the director of Junebug)
has not been embraced by most critics at the Tribeca Film Festival (actually, most of them hated it) but I so disagree. Almost Christmas is one of my favorites from this year’s festival, a thoroughly fresh dark
comedy – more sly and absurd than laugh-out-loud – with Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd as down-on-their-luck
Canadians who come to New York to sell Christmas trees for a month.
The emotional undercurrent explains the darkness: Giamatti’s
character, Dennis, has just been released from prison, and learns that his
former best friend and partner, Rene (Rudd), has gone straight. Rene is also engaged
to Dennis’ his ex-wife. Oh, and the ex-wife has told their daughter that her father
is dead. Not your typical cheery little Christmas movie, but it works and eventually
becomes joyful (within reason) instead of depressing.
There are perfect small touches. Rudd has a brown tooth. The
score of jazz-inflected Christmas carols is a soundtrack you want to have. It’s
a small out-of-season miracle.
You can catch the film in the last hours of the festival: Almost
Christmas will play in the Back by
Popular Demand slot at 9 P.M at AMC Loews Village 1.