All Is Bright (2013)

Comedy, Drama
Paul Giamatti, Paul Rudd, Sally Hawkins, Amy Landecker
While out on parole, Dennis reluctantly takes a job selling Christmas trees with his old buddy Rene in order to make enough money to buy his estranged daughter the piano she's always wanted.
Well-acted but uneven, All Is Bright strands a pair of strong performances from Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd in a meandering script.
  • Anchor Bay Films Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 04 Oct 2013 Released:
  • 18 Nov 2013 DVD Release:
  • $4.6k Box office:
  • Melissa James Gibson Writer:
  • Phil Morrison Director:
  • N/A Website:

All subtitles:


Surprisingly sad considering it stars Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd!6/10
'ALL IS BRIGHT': Three Stars (Out of Five)

Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd star in this comedy-drama film that's a lot more serious (and less comedic) than I was expecting (with that pair). It's a Christmas movie about two losers from Canada trying to sell Christmas trees in New York City. It was directed by Phil Morrison (who also directed the 2005 indie critical darling 'JUNEBUG') and written by first time film writer Melissa James Gibson. It's a lot more of a downer than it looks like (in the trailers) and isn't really that funny but it is a somewhat interesting character study.

Giamatti plays an ex-convict named Dennis, who just got out of prison in Quebec, Canada. His wife, Therese (Amy Landecker) is now sleeping with another man, Rene (Rudd). She also told their daughter, Michi (Tatyana Richaud), that Dennis was dead. In order to make enough money to buy Michi a piano for Christmas Dennis agree to sell Christmas trees with Rene in New York City. Neither is especially good at the job and it's a big challenge.

For a Christmas movie and a comedy the film is pretty depressing. It's also surprisingly sad considering it stars Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd. Giamatti does a lot of serious dramas as well as comedies but it's definitely not Rudd's usual thing (it does mark his second quirky indie film this year though, after 'PRINCE AVALANCHE' from a few moths ago). He is his usual dimwitted and easygoing self in it though and you can't help but love him (and root for him) despite his flaws. Giamatti is definitely less likable in the movie and is pretty hard to like but both of their characters have their hearts in the right place. If you're expecting big laughs this isn't the movie for you but it is a decent emotional buddy film.

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All is bright, it just depends from where you look9/10
I went in to watch this movie expecting it to be a lot more sugary, maybe some poor guys discover the meaning of Christmas and everything is glowing in the end.

I was wrong. Sort of.

This movie teaches you a few things if you're willing to see them: - Sometimes life just won't cut you a break, no matter how noble your intentions or how much you suffer or work - you may discover you're dedicated to goals that much surpass your personal well-being and give up any rewards if only you can see them fulfilled.

The storyline is simple: guy, Dennis (Paul Giamatti), gets out of prison, wife tells him to go away and announces that their daughter now thinks he's dead. Wife also announces that she's about to marry a good friend of his, Rene (Paul Rudd), just as soon as he gets his divorce. With no house, money, or family, Dennis asks Rene to take him to New York on his yearly tree selling trip.

Both men are resolute to not commit any felonies anymore – this becoming a comedic point because from the get go, they're not exactly law abiding. Dennis leaves the country although he's released under parole, and hides in the truck among the trees to pass customs. He threatens other sellers as soon as they arrive, steals petty stuff at any chance he gets.

When the season ends and they count the good money, they get robbed by a guy who earlier pretended to be blind – at which point by the way he had the funniest line in the movie. At the end they plan a robbery to the wealthy house where a woman they became friends with worked. They're not stealing what you'd expect, and I'll leave it at that.

Other commenter criticized the fact that they didn't put the money in the bank. Well, for one they're cons so they don't think that way, and then they're cons and have records, you can't just walk into a bank and then start sending funds to your account from another country.

It's the obscure/dark humor, hopeless and sad humor at the same time, combined with the survival situation to achieve relatively small, but unattainable goals, that give the movie its character.

Some characters are delicately crafted: the Russian woman they befriend is a simple house maid in some dentist's house. She is poor, and shares the same passion as Dennis' daughter – playing the piano.

Rene is added depth when his current wife announces she'll give him a divorce. He's not happy, he's not celebrating – he is devastated he didn't even take her on a honeymoon. Granted he's a hypocrite because he's trying to marry another woman, but still it was a different reaction from what you'd expect.

Dennis and Rene remain in a hanging-by-a-thread kind of relationship, and that thread is survival. Dennis, despite what you'd expect from an ex con, cares about his (ex)wife and daughter so much that he's willing to stick it out, and stick up for, with the guy who took them from him in order to give his daughter a gift that he promised in his mind, and in order to not make his wife suffer because of Rene's behavior. ("Why would I lie for him?")

While they're making a tree sale to 2 guys, Dennis actually has a breakdown about how Rene stole his wife and the 2 guys are strongly on his side and encourage him to do all that he can to get her back. That's the voice of the viewer, I'd say, because that's what other movies teach you to want. I like to interpret Dennis not following this path of action as the selfless choice of reason: his wife and daughter have been through a lot while he was in prison and managed to rebuild their lives. They seem happy and do not show signs of wanting him back. He realizes his fight to get them back will very likely be unsuccessful, and would add hardship to the wife's already tough time. So he chooses to step back (not without a few … desperation fits) – with the last gesture of getting his kid a piano, by any means. And by this gesture he does not aim to be the hero, to be lauded and acknowledged. He just wants to make his kid happy even without the reward of "good daddy".

I'm not surprised that the film has a low score and few reviews. It's not a general public type of film, and it's not an American type of film as it's not rewarding to watch - all things don't get fixed up by the end.

Both Pauls are remarkable in their roles, they make believable and deep characters. Sally Hawkins is funny and quirky as the Russian girl. I have nothing to say about Amy Landecker as the wife. This for me is also a good point of the movie: she's a regular woman with a kid and real problems, she's not a trophy.

The film has a nice offbeat rhythm that I enjoyed and that fits well with my understanding of how films should be (music too – but that has no place here). I hope there are viewers out there who feel the same.
All is bright... But all is not funny...6/10
I must say for a comedy starring Paul Rudd and Paul Giamatti, then "All Is Bright" was somewhat of a disappointment if you look at the movie from a comedy aspect. Why? Well, because there was almost no comedy here. This was more a drama with some elements of pseudo-comedy thrown into it.

The story is about Dennis (played by Paul Giamatti) who is released from prison, only to find his wife Therese (played by Amy Landecker) having told their daughter that he is dead. And to make matters worse, she is to marry his former partner in crime Rene (played by Paul Rudd). Down on his luck and low on cash, Dennis have to bite the sour apple and go with Rene to New York City to sell Christmas trees.

Now, as much as the story is without comedy that will make you laugh, then the movie is equally stacked with an interesting story that was really well acted by the lead actors, and they really carried the movie quite nicely.

The characters in the movie were well carved out, with lots of depth, personality and characteristics, as odd as they may be. But with the talent of Rudd and Giamatti, then the audience are introduced to two very different characters, that are each individually very likable for better or worse. And together on the screen, their chemistry is just magnificent.

"All Is Bright" is well worth a watch if you enjoy a movie that is something out of the ordinary.
Good Christmas despair movie9/10
I wouldn't call this a comedy. But it is touching and a serious account of struggling for Christmas.

There is brilliant subtlety in the plot and ending that is easily not noticed.

Part of the film's charm is rooting the origins of Christmas in Quebec, where it deserves to be.

The movie is neither depressing nor uplifting while staying interesting, and the choice to make it so is interesting.

This is definitely worth seeing. Don't expect too much. Though this is arguably Giamatti's best acting since that wine tasting movie.
Acting is great and movie is good but very depressing. This is not a Christmas movie at all. Giamatti is great as always.7/10
"Season's Greetings from Canada." After being released from prison Dennis (Giamatti) returns home to see his kid he is surprised when he finds out his wife told the daughter he was dead. Things get worse when he finds out his ex crime partner Rene (Rudd) is now dating his wife. Looking for work Dennis joins Rene on a trip to New York City to sell Christmas trees. The trip not only forces them to deal with the present circumstances but winds up affecting the lives of everyone involved. First of all even though this is about selling trees I would not call this a Christmas movie. Going into this I was excited because I love Paul Giamatti and think Paul Rudd is underrated. While the movie is good and the acting is great as expected it is very depressing. This is a movie that I can't really talk about what is going on too much because it will give something away but just know that you see the full arc of Dennis from happiness of being released to happiness with himself. If you are a Giamatti fan you will like this but don't expect a happy Christmas movie at all. Overall, great acting and worth seeing but don't be shocked if you are sad when its over. I give it a B.