All is Bright
Three Stars
Directed by Phil Morrison
Starring Paul Giamatti, Paul Rudd, Sally Hawkins
Rated R
Playing at Quad Cinema

Watching "All is Bright" is like stepping in a time capsule and popping out in a movie theater sometime between the late '60s and mid-'70s, the height of post-studio system American naturalism.

It's an odd, character-driven piece filled with slow zooms and an incongruously jazzy soundtrack that also features piano-heavy interludes of Tracey Thorn's Christmas ballad "Joy." The story is low-key and quiet, performed by big-time actors acting for the sake of their craft, not a major paycheck or a higher profile.

It's messy, implausible and all over the map from a tonal perspective. But there are pleasures to be had in watching the great Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd play salesmen from Quebec hawking Christmas trees on a nondescript traffic island in Brooklyn over the course of a tumultuous December.

Director Phil Morrison gives the movie an admirably scruffy quality; the urban grime practically radiates off the screen. And one suspects that Arthur Miller himself would have appreciated the portrait of blue-collar men attempting to be providers in the face of daunting odds: a struggling economy and their powerful personal demons.

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