Noel The Movie : Miracles Are Closer Than You Think


This was the official website for the holiday film, Noel. Content is from the site's archived pages.




Plot summary from Wikipedia

The film centers on five strangers who are linked together – and who meet each other at separate times – by a series of events that take place on Christmas Eve in New York.

The main character is Rose (Susan Sarandon), a woman who is struggling to cope with caring for her mother, an Alzheimer's patient. Meanwhile, Nina (Penélope Cruz) and Mike (Paul Walker) are a young couple on the verge of breaking up due to Mike's increasingly jealous behavior. Elsewhere, Artie (Alan Arkin) is an old waiter who searches for his deceased wife every Christmas Eve. Finally, Jules (Marcus Thomas) is a young man who deliberately damages his hand so he can attend a Christmas party in the emergency room, as that was the only happy memory of his childhood. In addition to the five main characters, the mysterious Charlie (Robin Williams) is introduced as the person who may be able to help Rose finally realize that she must look after herself more, rather than worrying about everyone else.



NOEL (2004)

  • Susan Sarandon as Rose
  • Penelope Cruz as Nina
  • Paul Walker as Mike
  • Alan Arkin as Artie
  • Robin Williams as Charlie
  • Marcus Thomas as Jules
  • Chazz Palminteri as Arizona
  • Erika Rosenbaum as Merry
Directed by
  • Chazz Palminteri
Written by
  • David Hubbard

Drama, Romance

Rated PG for sensuality, thematic material and some language

96 minutes


November 11, 2004  

"Noel" tells the usual story of sad strangers who seek happiness on Christmas Eve, with the variation that most of the characters are stark staring mad. Christmas is a holiday fraught with hazards, anyway, and these people are clearly not up to it. Thanksgiving is the most angst-free holiday, with no presents to buy, no cards to send, and mountains of turkey. But the genre of Thanksgiving movies is dominated by miserable, destructive family reunions; only the wonderful "What's Cooking" gives the holiday a break.

If Thanksgiving in the movies is about lethal families, Christmas movies tend to be about loners who most keenly feel their aloneness as they engage in that quintessential activity of the Lonely Person, watching a yule log on TV. The thing is, we're obsessed with the conviction that we're supposed to feel happy at Christmastime.

In Chazz Palminteri's new film, the most miserable character is probably Rose (Susan Sarandon), a divorced, middle-age book editor whose mother has disappeared into Alzheimer's. At one point she stands on the banks of a river, looking longingly at the icy water, but she's talked back from the edge by Charlie (Robin Williams), who she met in her mother's nursing home, where he was sitting in the corner in the dark in a room with an unmoving body on the bed -- a body that Rose, in her desperation, one night told, "I love you!"

Well, she needs somebody to love. "You need sex. Good sex," advises Rose's secretary, who seems to speak from experience. Rose gets fixed up with the office stud, but at the point of decision she finds that it's all just too sad and sordid.

Meanwhile, we meet Nina (Penelope Cruz), who is engaged to a cop named Mike (Paul Walker), who is consumed by such anger and jealousy that she threatens to postpone their wedding.

Mike has his own problems: Artie (Alan Arkin), a waiter in a restaurant, follows him around with lovesick eyes, not because he is gay, but because it only took him one look at Mike to realize he is the reincarnation of his dead wife. He could see it in the eyes. Even people who believe in reincarnation would probably not want to meet Artie.

Oh, and then there's the sad case of Jules (Marcus Thomas), who has only had one happy Christmas in his entire life, and that was when he was in a hospital emergency room and they had a Christmas party. Early in the film, he wanders into his local E.R. and asks what time the party starts, but is informed, alas, that he will require an emergency. This leads easily to the movie's most peculiar scene, in which Jules approaches a sinister man who seems to live on the stage of an abandoned theater, and says to him: "Glenn said that you break hands."

All of these plot developments are further complicated by the movie's intersecting plotlines and timelines; this is one of those stories where the characters always seem to be crossing paths. Some of the characters, like Sarandon's Rose, are convincing and poignant; others, like Arkin's lovesick waiter, are creepy, and the guy who gets his hand broken should have tried the party at the Salvation Army, where they have great hot chocolate and sometimes you get a slice of pumpkin pie.

Only a cynic could dislike this movie, which may be why I disliked it. I can be sentimental under the right circumstances, but the movie is such a calculating tearjerker that it played like a challenge to me. There's a point at which the plot crosses an invisible line, becoming so preposterous that it's no longer moving and is just plain weird. If it's this much trouble to be happy on Christmas, then maybe Rose should consider doing what Susan Sontag does every year, which is to fly to Venice all by herself, and walk around alone in the fog and the mist and cross lonely bridges over dark canals and let the chill seep into her bones and then curl up in bed in an empty hotel with a good book. It's kind of a judo technique: You use loneliness as a weapon against itself.


Reviews From

34 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

A touching gift for the holiday season

Author: Christopher Causey from United States
1 August 2006

After reading the other reviews on this film, I saw the need for an authentic review. With an all-star cast and a story written with such complex layer and beauty, it is hard to not fall deep into the spirit of this movie. As we watch each character move through the day and night before Christmas Day, we see their stories woven into an interconnected pattern which ultimately proves to the magical power that the Holiday casts on our hearts. Each story different, each life full of pain and love; both sides of the Christmas holiday are shown in this film. The lonely and the loved, the heartsick and the passionate, the joyful and the sad - Noel is a Christmas story which speaks to the truth of the magic of Holiday Season. All actors shine in this touching film, with the performances of Susan Saradon, Penelope Cruz, Paul Walker, Alan Arkin, and Robin Williams encompassing intense, simple, and artful portraits of the human condition. If you are looking for a modern Holiday movie full of the rich character and story detail found in the great reels of the past - do not turn to the numerous "Seasonal flicks" found on cable TV - but rather, discover and rediscover the magic found in Noel.


41 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

No critics, just film lovers please!

Author: shultzl from United States
7 September 2005

Why try to be a film critic? I cannot understand why people can't just sit back and enjoy a very sweet film without picking out every imperfection. Noel is a movie with a lot of heart. Alan Arkin gives an excellent performance as well as Susan Sarandon. While others may not enjoy this movie because it depicts what the holidays are actually like for millions of people, I found it to represent the loss of connection we have all come to know to well. I think that the message is clear, that people need each other to live a life of substance. As individuals we are lost, but with friends, family and love we have hope. I hope the person that fell asleep watching this film did so next to a wife,husband or life partner and that they just didn't appreciate the film because they can't comprehend what it is like to be alone. I will watch this film every year with my family. It will remind us to be grateful for having each other. Thank you Chazz for taking the time to make this film.


22 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Noel is lovely holiday fare.

Author: lisa-398 from Connecticut
25 October 2004

Noel is lovely holiday fare. The tag line could be "Everything that happens, happens for a reason". This holiday story reveals characters that are easy to identify with and through the circumstances that unfold, their lives weave a tapestry of love, growth and the often overlooked kindness of humanity. The storyline and dialogue bring plenty of warm hearted sentimentality to the film which is nicely offset by incidents of comic relief. Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams deliver wonderful performances and you will find yourself deeply caring about their characters. Director Chazz Palminteri brings out another side of Paul Walker, proving that Mr. Walker can do more than just drive fast cars. Penelope Cruz is as lovely as ever lending inner beauty through her character as well. Alan Arkin plays a delightful character with a twist. The remaining cast, including a cameo by Mr. Palminteri, does a nice job of completing the ensemble and giving this story heart. Though the story revolves around the Christmas holiday, it may serve to remind us that each person is connected to one another within the human family no matter what the season.

21 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Christmas and a time for meting out miracles

Author: gradyharp from United States
26 October 2005

NOEL is an unabashedly romantic little film, the type of movie Hollywood used to make for Christmas seasons before the toilet mouth Bad Santa, etc type became popular. Perhaps the time has returned for us to examine how the world can come together at this time of year, sort of a good omen that we just might all start taking care of each other again! Chazz Palminteri takes on directing this story by David Hubbard, surrounds himself with a top notch crew of actors, and capably and sensitively brings off this little story of the interweaving of five lives on a Christmas Eve in New York City with all the tenderness and associated joy of placing old and loved garlands and bangles on a tree. It is a perfect film for re-discovering the meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Eve in Manhattan finds various characters who are in turmoil at this special time of the year. Successful book publisher Rose Harrison (Susan Sarandon) fights off depression by being kind to everyone: her lonely life is centered on spending her non-work hours tending to her mother who has advanced Alzheimer's Disease (she is divorced without children and without love). Across the hall from her mother's hospital room is a comatose man who never has visitors, and when Rose brings him an angel ornament for is window she meets Charlie (Robin Williams) who apparently has been visiting. Elsewhere in the city is Jules (Marcus Thomas) who informs strangers that his only good Christmas memory as an unwanted and abused kid was one he spent in a hospital after a beating: he plans to have his hands broken so that he can spend the night in the hospital where he hopes to discover joy. And then there is police officer Mike (Paul Walker) engaged to gorgeous Nina (Penélope Cruz) whom he inadvertently drives away with his jealous behavior. Mike is observed by old Artie (Alan Arkin) who recognizes Mike as the reincarnation of his deceased wife and longs to establish a close relationship with his newfound love.

All of these disparate characters interact by coincidence: Rose mistakenly intrudes on Nina's family gathering only to end up in a café with Nina sharing her secret grief for which Rose offers empathy and lessons. Mike confronts the strange Artie who collapses and lands in the hospital where Mike senses his history and gently offers him empathy. Nina and Mike face a condition that alters their relationship, Rose discovers a secret about Charlie that allows her to learn about love and compassion and forgiveness, etc etc etc.

These are little miracles, the kinds of everyday occurrences that our speed of life ignores. If it takes a film of this nature to help us gain awareness of the importance of personal peace, companionship, forgiveness and love, then hats off to Hubbard and Palminteri - and to a wonderful cast of fine actors enjoying their craft. Highly Recommended for everyone with a strong sentimental streak! Grady Harp