Season's Gratings from an All-Star Cast; CULTURE in Association with the Art Lounge Noel Lions Gate Home Entertainment Cert: PG RRP: Pounds 10.89m ***

Article excerpt

Byline: Mo Ilyas

If you're looking for festive viewing that has a comfortable 'feel good' factor, ideal. If you're looking for something memorable from an allstar, high quality cast, sorry, look elsewhere.

The directorial debut of Chaz Palminteri ( Bullets Over Broadway, Usual Suspects, Godfather 3 etc), Noel is a series of intertwined tales about the lives of lonely New Yorkers readying themselves on Christmas Eve for the big day.

There's Rose (Susan Sarandon), the widowed book editor whose devotion to her hospitalised elderly mother means she has no social life and backs off at the crucial moment when a handsome young colleague's wined and dined her and they're back at her flat.

Meanwhile, police officer Mike (Paul Walker) can't control his paranoid jealousy which results in his gorgeous fiancee Nina (a sultry Penelope Cruz) walking out on him just days before their wedding. His life gets even more complicated when an obsessive old waiter (Alan Arkin) intrudes into his life and is insistent on a meeting with the hot-tempered but good-looking cop.

Then there's Jules (Marcus Thomas) who wants to recreate his bestever Christmas, which was as a young patient in hospital, so naturally he arranges to have his hand broken so he can be admitted in time for the ward festivities. …