Movie Review – Happiest Season (2020)

Happiest Season, 2020.

Directed by Clea DuVall.
Starring Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Mary Steenburgen, Victor Garber, Dan Levy, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Mary Holland, Burl Moseley and Jake McDorman.

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SYNOPSIS:

Harper impulsively invitations her girlfriend, Abby, to fulfill her household over Christmas. The one downside is that she hasn’t informed them she’s homosexual.

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It feels just like the tide is lastly turning on Kristen Stewart. After years of unfair criticism derived from her lead roles within the Twilight franchise and the largely reviled Snow White and the Huntsman, she spent the most effective a part of a decade being sensible in indie films like Private Shopper and has now made the soar again to the mainstream. She was a comedy standout in final 12 months’s unfairly maligned Charlie’s Angels reboot and, now, she’s taking over a correct studio romcom with the delectable festive deal with Happiest Season.

Each Christmas film wants a Scrooge, and Stewart’s Abby is definitely a Yuletide-sceptic determine, at one level stating that the festive season “brings out the worst in every little thing” with its emotional strain cooker setting. Determined to show her girlfriend right into a Christmas lover, Harper (Mackenzie Davis) blurts out an invite for her to return and meet her household. Harper’s father (Victor Garber) is working for mayoral workplace and her mom (Mary Steenburgen) is obsessive about curating the proper household Instagram feed, with the assistance of Harper and her sisters – “super-mom” Sloane (Alison Brie) and the delightfully odd Jane (Mary Holland). Abby quickly learns that Harper just isn’t out to her dad and mom and that their phantasm of perfection just isn’t appropriate with having a homosexual daughter.

It’s a basic premise for comedic misunderstandings and sneaking round the home in the dead of night. Each Stewart and Davis are glorious comedic performers in very alternative ways, with Davis enjoying broader notes to Stewart’s deliciously under-played deadpan. Author-director Clea DuVall’s script is wryly noticed and stuffed to bursting with memorable one-liners, most notably from Steenburgen’s suffocatingly excellent mom who delivers micro-aggressions with a welcoming smile. Co-writer Holland additionally makes her mark, taking each scene wherein she seems as Jane and waltzing off with it wrapped in shiny paper and adorned with a bow.

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Like most of the greatest Christmas films, Happiest Season is blessed with a killer ensemble, handing plum supporting roles to the likes of Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza, whereas Schitt’s Creek creator Dan Levy parachutes in with comedic highlights as Abby’s greatest pal. There’s even a welcome cameo for Ru Paul’s Drag Race alumni BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon, as if the film’s LGBTQ+ credentials wanted boosting any additional.

And that’s actually what makes Happiest Season extra than simply one other Christmas romcom. It’s nonetheless vanishingly uncommon for a significant studio movie to highlight queer characters and rarer nonetheless for these films to deliver such nuance and element to the method of popping out. It is a film which is unafraid of loud, romantic histrionics but in addition recognises when it’s proper to puncture these with a single line that brings the story right down to Earth. DuVall’s private experiences give her a refreshingly particular perspective, which comes via clearly in her method right here. It’s a feel-good festive film, so the vacation spot is apparent, however there are many sudden wrinkles alongside the way in which.

It’s this specificity and sensitivity which helps the film stand out among the many annual crop of Christmas romcoms. Duvall understands and utilises the tropes of the style whereas twisting the attitude and sketching relatable element and humanity to each single character – even those lesser movies would write off as simplistic comedian aid. Grand romantic gestures occur, however their existence on this story is much less essential than their timing. The film acknowledges the difficulties that stay round navigating popping out within the twenty first century, in addition to the suffocating affect of cartoonish, middle-class perfection.

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However that’s to not counsel Happiest Season has pretensions of being higher than the razzle-dazzle of December – an “elevated Christmas film”, like The Babadook with tinsel. It’s unashamedly foolish, unashamedly glittery and prepared to crank up that Christmas playlist on Spotify on the slightest provocation. However the Yuletide romance has been so blandly heteronormative for thus lengthy – simply check out this Letterboxd list – that even the slightest deviation from the formulation appears like a revelation. And when the revelation can be a regularly hilarious showcase for an ensemble of the most effective feminine performers in Hollywood, it feels very very similar to the proper Secret Santa reward.

Flickering Fable Score – Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Film: ★ ★ ★ ★

Tom Beasley is a contract movie journalist and wrestling fan. Observe him on Twitter via @TomJBeasley for film opinions, wrestling stuff and puns.

 

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