Paul Giamatti is one of our great screen actors, an absolute poet of frustration and regret with the range to play a wide variety of roles. Watch him in Tom McCarthy's delightful Win Win and then in Cold Souls and then in American Splendor. He can play everything from enraged and dyspeptic to nurturing and witty.
He gets another chance to work the territory of the unhappy man trying to right the foundering ship that his life has become in All Is Bright, a small but thoroughly engaging dramatic comedy that teams him with his virtual opposite in temperament, Paul Rudd.
Giamatti plays Dennis, just out of a Canadian prison. His stint for breaking and entering, he discovers, has cost him his wife and child; even worse, his wife has taken up with his old partner in crime, Rene (Rudd), who has gone straight to make his new relationship work. Dennis is broke - but Rene has a job that will help him earn some cash in a hurry, legitimately.
They are taking a load of Christmas trees from Quebec to Brooklyn, where they will set up a corner stand. By the time Christmas rolls around, they'll have a few thousand dollars each - enough for Dennis to buy his daughter the big gift he thinks will redeem him in his ex-wife's eyes. (This, despite the fact that she's told their child that, in fact, Dennis is dead.)
This review continues on my website.
Follow Marshall Fine on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hollywoodnfine