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Not as light-hearted as some of Burns' work, but very insightful; great testimony to the power of forgiveness
Gerald Fitzgerald (Edward Burns, who also wrote, directed and produced this gem) has been the family peacemaker and caretaker for a long time. As the eldest of seven siblings, Gerry took over the role of parent when the father took off twenty years ago. Mother Rosie (Anita Gillette) was devastated and still very bitter. Although all of the kids are now adults, there has never been a family dinner that includes both natural parents. Rosie won't hear of it. So, for two decades, the Fitzgerald clan of three sons and four daughters has seen Dad on and off but always have Holiday celebrations with Rosie. Now, this year is different. Father Skip-out has terminal cancer and he wants Gerald to arrange for the whole family to be together for the Christmas meal. Gerry hoped to talk to the sibs at their mother's birthday dinner, on the 23rd. But, the brothers and sisters started canceling out. One just got out of rehab, one has an abusive husband, one is married to a Jewish man who wants his wife to spend time with HIS family and so on. However, once the kids know about their Dad's condition, they join forces to convince Mother to forgive her ex, at least for a day. Also chiming in are the family priest and a close neighbor lady. Meanwhile, Gerry has met a nice home health aide, Nora (Connie Britton) who is the first woman he has really connected to since the death of his fiancé. Will this be the season of the true spirit of Christ's love? This sharp, insightful movie has its funny moments but deals more often with very serious subjects. What else would anyone expect from the terrific writer/director Edward Burns? The cast is quite large and does fine work, including Burns himself in a pivotal role. The setting in and around Manhattan are Burns' favorites as well. Here is a flick that would set the stage for a family gathering of peace and love, even if your family is enduring quite a bit of upheaval. Isn't that what most long for at holiday times?
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