Saturday, November 16, 2013

Blu-ray/DVDebut: Giamatti, Rudd & Hawkins brighten Phil Morrison's ALL IS BRIGHT

The beauty and necessity of indie films stars are put on show in this little independent movie that came and went from theaters in the blink of an eye but can now find its place in film-goers' hearts and minds in a very good Blu-ray transfer that hits the street this coming Tuesday, November 19. ALL IS BRIGHT is about thievery and the criminal as-pect, among other movie constants such as family, love, divorce and coming to terms with what's best for your offspring.

As written by Melissa James Gibson (who penned several episodes of cable TV's The Americans this past season) and directed by Phil Morrison (shown at left, of Junebug), the movie is a parable of how to survive our current bleak economic times.

Those talented Pauls, Rudd and Giamatti, play criminal friends who also share a love for the Giamatti character's wife (Amy Landecker) and child (a talented newcomer named Tatyana Richaud). So Giamatti, just out of prison, on parole and needing immediate employment, talks Rudd into letting him replace another worker selling Canadian Christmas trees in New York City. (The scene in which Rudd tells that worker he's not needed, shot from a distance so that we cannot hear any of the dialog, is one of the film's sweetest, saddest and funniest.)

Down in New York City, Giamatti's first sale is to recent Russian immigrant played in fabulous style by that versatile British actress Sally Hawkins (above, right), who brings the movie a much-needed lift whenever she appears. Otherwise, the Pauls (below, with Rudd on the left) argue and sometime fight, finally managing to sell their trees and earn a nice bit of cash, while trying to convince the other that he's the wrong guy to head the family in question.

All Is Bright's a movie of small pleasures. Ace performances from everyone ensures that anyone who appreciates good acting will stick with the film. The writing too, is full of quirk, charm and a relatively high level of beliveability, given the combination of reality and sentimentality that hovers over the situation. Morrison directs in a simple, offhand manner that lets the actors grab the ball and run with it -- which they do at every opportunity (Morrison and Gibson have given them ample).

And that's pretty much it. There is an interesting viewpoint toward criminality here, what it does to our boys and how it comes back to bite them in the ass. There's also a smart look at immigrants in NYC, and at the haves and the have-nots. Nothing too deep, mind you; there is that air of sentimentality I mentioned earlier that comes home to rest at the finale. And yet. The writer and director and their cast manage to finally circumvent this just enough to let us feel the sadness and pain while exulting in the final decision made -- which seem the right one, considering all that we've come to know.

All Is Bright, from Anchor Bay Entertainment and running 107 minutes, is one of those worthwhile independent films that can easily escape notice. So be aware, particularly if you're a fan of this trio of fine performers.

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