No one plays flustered or irritated quite like Paul Giamatti. Whether it’s a character who refuses to drink one more glass of merlot, like in Sideways, or a man who’s happiest when he’s miserable, like his Harvey Pekar in American Splendor, Giamatti has a gift for capturing the precise moment when a man goes from simmering frustration to volcanic rage.
In All Is Bright, which opens in theaters tomorrow (and is currently available on VOD), Giamatti outdoes himself, playing a French-Canadian ex-con who pairs with Paul Rudd to sell Christmas trees in New York City. How sad is his latest sad-sack, Dennis? Well, Dennis’ ex-wife told their daughter he was dead while he was in prison. And when Dennis is released, he learns that his old pal, Rudd’s Rene, is now sleeping with said ex-wife. Also, there’s his amazing walrus facial hair, which Giamatti imagined and grew on his own. “That was all me,” he says. “There’s some creative facial hair in Canada and I just liked the look. I liked being kind of shaggy with this guy. He’s coming from the north woods, he’s like a bit of a bear.”
A bear, indeed. In a slightly NSFW clip below from the movie, a rival Christmas-tree seller makes the mistake of poking the bear.