It's A Wonderful Life

When: Dec. 21-25 2012

If you’re a glass-is-half-full kind of optimist, here’s the story of a man who gets a chance to see how one life affects countless others, and how his good deeds are repaid in his time of need. If you’re a glass-is-half-empty sort, here’s a cautionary tale about pharmaceutical malpractice, child mortality, slipshod banking, heavy drinking, attempted suicide, frigid spinsterdom and real-estate chicanery — and one in which the bad guy gets off scot-free, as best we can tell. The genius of Frank Capra’s 1946 Christmas classic is that it’s both: It’s at once the most despairing and elating of holiday films, and its closing toast of good cheer would be meaningless (and insufferable) without the hell James Stewart’s George Bailey undergoes to receive it. The Belcourt’s annual Christmas engagement has been going so long some of its earliest patrons are now teenagers: If you’ve never been, go, and don’t feel shy about singing along with “Auld Lang Syne” — especially if you take a cup of kindness at the liquor-stocked concession counter.

Jim Ridley

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