Christmas, Again: A Modern Scrooge Story Set in Brooklyn

When you’re acting as a shill for the sale of Christmas trees at the Greenpoint/Williamsburg border, there’s really no reason to be particularly happy about the holiday season. This is the most glaring reason why Noel (Kentucker Audley), the anti-hero of Charles Poekel’s debut feature Christmas, Again, is particularly gruff while forced to endure the demands of potential yuppie customers.

But more than the pain of working the night shift in the cold, Noel feels the agony of loss as a result of his girlfriend (who used to help sell the trees with him) breaking up with him before the advent of the season. To make matters worse, the help he’s enlisted, Nick (Jason Shelton), and his girlfriend, Lydia (Hannah Gross), are far more lax about the care and salesmanship involved in the game of trees. While the three of them initially stay in the trailer next to the “lot” together, Nick and Lydia eventually leave to go stay with her sister. Thus, Noel is alone most of the time, bearing witness to such strange sights as encountering a woman, Robin (Oona Roche), passed out next to a homeless man in McCarren Park. Not wanting to leave her alone with him–considering he’s about to steal her cell phone–Noel carries her back to his trailer to provide her with sanctuary for the night.

The next morning, a confused Robin awakens in Noel’s bed and sneaks out as he’s dealing with a customer outside. Noel thinks little of the incident until she returns another night to ask him what exactly happened and if he remembers how she got there. He says that he retrieved her phone from the homeless man, took her back to the trailer and cut some gum out of her hair–other than that, he couldn’t say how she ended up on the park bench. Disheartened, Robin moodily leaves, only to return yet again another evening with a pie in hand as an apology for her rudeness and a thank you to Noel for rescuing her.

Although she tries to engage him in conversation, Noel seems so unaccustomed to interacting on a real level that he can’t say more than a few words in response to her. After commenting on the irony of his name being Noel and his profession being the sale of Christmas trees, Robin leaves, and would probably never have reason to return to the trailer were it not for her boyfriend buying a tree from Noel and noticing the distinct pie she made on the table. When he asks Noel about it, he brags that some girl who spent the night made it for him. Enraged, Robin’s boyfriend takes his tree, Christmas lights and complimentary ornament with a stoic air–claiming his revenge later by running past Noel on the street and punching him in the face.

When Robin finds out what Noel said to her boyfriend, she confronts him, bringing to the surface the attraction that’s been mounting between them the entire time. Because she’s now locked out of her apartment as a result of her boyfriend’s anger, Noel extends the offer for her to accompany him on his round of Christmas Eve deliveries. With little else in the way of options, she agrees, further forging their bond. On their final delivery to a rest home in Bushwick, Noel is given a tea flower, which he and Robin watch blossom back in his trailer–an overt metaphor for the love that’s blooming between them. Unfortunately, Robin’s skittishness leads to a bittersweet ending that proves maybe Noel was correct in his Scrooge behavior all along.