CHRISTMAS, AGAIN (2015)
Nominated for Indie Spirit Award John Cassavetes Award. New York Times Critics Pick. Official Selection: Sundance, New Directors/New Films, Locarno.
One of the "Best 20 Holiday Films of All Time". Indiewire
A low-key, near-total charmer." Los Angeles Times
"Audley gives one of the year’s best performances." AV Club
"Audley draws you in in the way the old movie stars used to do: his emotions are clear and mysterious at the same time." RogerEbert.com
A superb and wrenching performance." The Wrap
For a fifth consecutive December, a heartbroken Noel returns to New York City to work the night shift at a sidewalk Christmas tree lot. Devoid of any holiday spirit, he struggles to stay awake during the long, chilly nights in his trailer, while the daytime traffic keeps him from getting any real rest. As he slowly spirals into despair, he comes to the aid of a mysterious young woman in the park. Her warming presence, matched with some colorful customers, help rescue him from self-destruction.
Praise for the film:
"Audley imbues his character with gently affecting melancholic depth. A far cry from some of the more energetic personalities he's portrayed in other small-scale narratives, Audley imbues Noel with the characteristics of a frightened lost soul." INDIEWIRE
"Audley (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints), in practically every frame of the film, has to carry this feather-light narrative on his shoulders and does so with ease. His Noel seems to do very little and isn’t particularly warm or sympathetic, yet there’s something fascinating about simply watching him getting on with the business of selling trees, which, much like his funk, is clearly a seasonal thing." HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
"Taking out his heartbreak on others, Noel is curt and surprisingly unhelpful with clients, though never in a snide “Bad Santa” sense. Audley makes him sympathetic, and at times, he’s even capable of kindness." VARIETY
"Audley carries the picture, and he does a fine job with what he's given; with his beard and beanie and puffy coat, he passes for an outdoorsy working dude, the kind you'd walk by on the street without a second thought. Audley's mutability works in his favor; it's hard to realize he's the same guy who plays a slick hipster travelling to a creepy Jamestown-like commune in "The Sacrament." As Noel, his face is expressive and readable, he's eternally patient with even the wishy-washiest customers, and when he breaks out into a smile, it's sincere and it spreads." THE PLAYLIST
"An unadorned narrative, with its emotions flowing deep beneath the surface and also economical with its dialogue and plot developments, needs a strong central performance in order for it to work and that’s exactly what Poekel gets from Kentucker Audley. His portrayal of a man engulfed in grief is something to behold. Full of nuance, he delivers a muted performance wherein a prequel of Christmas, Again plays out in his pained facial expressions. No exposition needed when everything is written on Audley’s face." FILM PULSE
"Writer-director Charles Poekel doesn't get too fancy with his simple, direct story, letting Audley's quietly moving performance convey the strong emotions of heartbreak and healing." SALT LAKE TRIBUNE