Happiest Season: Film Review

Happiest Season

Feeling in the mood for a fun, lovely, delightful Christmas movie? Then look no further than Happiest Season.

Clea DuVall‘s film stars Kristen Stewart as Abby and Mackenzie Davis as her girlfriend Harper, who invites her home for the holidays for the first time. What seems like a big step in their relationship is soon crushed with the revelation that Harper is still in the closet and she needs them to pretend to be straight roommates during the five-day visit.

This is the first major studio-backed same-sex festive film, as Christmas movies are largely dominated by white straight characters. It shouldn’t be such a historic, pivotal moment for representation in 2020 but it is – and what makes it even more exciting is that it is a traditional, conventional romcom – it has all the hallmarks of ‘meet the parents’ and ‘going home for the holidays’ films – but it just happens to star a lesbian couple.

Romantic comedy is a genre I’ve always embraced but the heyday of quality ones seems to have been and gone. Happiest Season gives me hope because it’s well-written, there are great characters and relationships, and the ensemble cast is terrific. However, it does suffer from the chronic romcom issue of being predictable, but that’s fine because we came here for warm fuzzy festive feelings. Also, there weren’t enough laugh-out-loud moments. It was always entertaining, captivating, and amusing (and occasionally moving) but I really wanted a hearty laugh and didn’t get that. It’s also tied up a bit too neatly at the end but I can forgive that too.

The cast is the film’s biggest strength. I love Stewart in absolutely everything so me enjoying her performance here is a given, but she brought great warmth and heart to the role and I liked seeing her in this type of film. She had convincing chemistry with Davis, an actress I adore.

The stars of the show are in the supporting cast though – first up is Dan Levy as Abby’s gay best friend John. He was fabulous, so much fun, made me smile the most, and has the most moving moment in the movie – his monologue is powerful and I imagine gay viewers will relate to it very well. Secondly, I loved Aubrey Plaza as Riley, who has a history with Harper. She’s a lifeline for Abby when she’s in need of normality outside of the highly-strung, perfectionist family and I liked that friendship. Then there’s Mary Holland, who co-wrote the movie with DuVall. She shines as the oddball weirdo Jane, who just wants to be noticed as the constantly overlooked middle child. The ensemble cast is rounded out by Alison Brie as the bitchy sister Sloane (we’ve seen Brie in this role before), and Mary Steenburgen and Victor Garber as Harper’s parents.

Happiest Season isn’t perfect but it gave me pretty much what I wanted from a festive romcom this year. It’s an absolute delight and I’ll happily watch it again.

Released on digital platforms such as Amazon Prime and iTunes on Thursday 26th November. Available on Sky Cinema and Now TV from 18 December.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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