A few night ago I joined a gathering billed as a "Christmas celebration." There were good eats, including a fabulous ice cream cake shaped like St. Nick, but the main feature was the showing of "Noel," the 2004 film pegged to the season.
Among the stars of the show are Susan Sarandon, Alan Arkin and Robin Williams who does an extended cameo.
The story is a festoon of sorrows. Sarandon strains to care for her elderly, Alzheimer-afflicted mother. A young couple's marriage falls to pieces because of the husband's jealousy. A man wanders in and out of insanity out of grief for his wife. Everyone paints a canvas of bleakness.
But serrendipity comes to the rescue and almost everybody ends up is touched by an angel.
I'm fairly immune to the sappy productions; they're hard to sit through but at least they don't pretend to do much else. This one, however, was downright irritating because it starts out as a genuine human drama, then resorts to cheap answers.
The film is set in New York where Christian symbols were much in evidence. The woebegotten actors play out their agonies among them. Yet the film was otherwise devoid of religious content.