Noel (Kentucker Audley), the appropriately named protagonist of “Christmas, Again,” approaches the holiday season more as he would a duty than an occasion for good cheer. For a brief period each year, he ventures from upstate New York to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to sell Christmas trees. He stands stoically while customers snap pictures of the firs on their cellphones or pepper him with questions about different evergreens.
A customer mentions the nice girl who worked at the stand last year, clearly Noel’s ex. Whether heartbroken or simply laconic, Noel seems reluctant to make conversation unless directly addressed.
Noel, who lives in a trailer, one night takes in a young woman, Lydia (Hannah Gross), who has passed out on a bench. Whether these two might provide some comfort for each other is the closest that “Christmas, Again” comes to having a plot.
But this is a film of process, mood, tempo, and even suspense. (Noel will have to pay for any unsold trees.) The writer and director, Charles Poekel, a cinematographer making his feature directorial debut, opened a stand of his own partly for research.
As the title suggests, “Christmas, Again” is concerned with how the holidays are, for some, a time of lonely resignation. (Sporting a green winter jacket, Noel sometimes looks ready to camouflage himself in his merchandise.) The cinematographer, Sean Price Williams, shoots on 16mm film, suffusing the film with wintry colors and, at times, visible grain.
This is a Christmas movie in which magic exists largely on the periphery, and that is just the right mix of chilly and sweet.
“Christmas, Again” is not rated. Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes.