Distributed by: Screen Media

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Yeah, I know Christmas is over, but I watched this Christmas movie the other day that I never heard of and I just had to write a review about it.  Besides, do we need a special time of the year for miracles?

            Noel centers around five strangers who are linked together in a very special way.  Susan Sarandon is Rose, a middle-aged woman whose mother is an Alzheimer's patient.  Focusing on her mother's care has been all that matters to Rose and she puts everything aside, including a love life, to do so.  But as her mother seems more and more distant, Rose becomes more and more frustrated with her life.  Can an act of kindness bring along someone who can give her the push she needs to move on in her life?

            Meanwhile, Nina Vasquez (Penelope Cruz) and Michael Riley (Paul Walker) are having some real problems this Christmas.  Nina has been feeling extremely emotional of late and is worried about the couple's future thanks to her police officer boyfriend Michael's jealousy.  One of Michael's jealous rages threatens to tear the couple apart until Michael is confronted by a waiter named Artie (Alan Arkin).  Artie swears that he knows Michael, despite Michael's protestations to the opposite.  The explanation behind how Artie knows Michael is impossible, yet can it be that this absurd tale has the ability to set Michael and Nina's relationship back on track?

            Then there is Jules (Marcus Thomas), a young man whose life is so sad that his happiest moments were spent in a hospital as a teenager when he broke his nose at Christmas.  Struggling with depression and a wish to return to those happy moments, Jules makes a decision that may affect his life forever.

            Some movies about Christmas miracles are cheesy at best, remakes of older, more plausible movies at most.  Noel has a couple of instances that are reminiscent of It's A Wonderful Life, but this is in no way, shape or form a remake of that Christmas classic.  The movie starts off depressing - every main character has some heavy baggage in this film.  I remember commenting on it being very sad, but for some reason, I was mesmerized by this film.  In just a half hour, I was completely immersed in the characters' plights and wanted to know their outcomes.

            As the film moves forward, I found myself grinning.  This is a tale of a Christmas miracle with a twist.  The characters are filled with flaws, but there are redeemable qualities in each and every one of them that endear them to our hearts and make us hope for a happy ending. 

            I found myself wondering at the fact that I had never heard of this film before.  Sure, there is a predictability in the outcome of the film for some of the characters, but not all of their fates are predictable.  I found the film to be quite dramatic and uplifting and would recommend Noel to anyone who enjoys this kind of movie.


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