Reviews Happiest Season In a realistic world, a typical couple wouldn’t exchange overtly explanatory lines amongst themselves in private and say things such as, “I know how you feel about Christmas because you lost your parents then.”
Unless of course they are somehow more concerned about informing some imaginary onlookers
on their emotional state and personal history than, you know, being two real people who naturally
ease into each other’s loving company. And yet, this descriptive line is exactly what gets muttered
early on between the central romantic duo Harper (Mackenzie Davis) and Abby (Kristen Stewart)
in the generically vivid holiday rom-com “Happiest Season.”
It’s never a good sign when characters in a film promptly declare: we are aware you
are watching and we’re here to teach you a thing or two.
Unfortunately, this self-aware attitude plagues much of “Happiest Season,” actor-turned-director
Clea DuVall’s second narrative feature after 2016’s modest yet sharp relationship comedy
“The Intervention,” a film that introduced the writer-director’s perceptive voice both on
the page and behind the camera.
Co-written by DuVall and her “Veep” co-star Mary Holland, “Happiest Season” puzzlingly
doesn’t feature any of the incisiveness DuVall formerly came to prove as a storyteller.
It’s almost as if the filmmaker thought that her movie—a mainstream, star-studded, studio holiday romp built around a gay couple—is virtuous and worthy enough in itself just by existing. Toppling a stereotypically straight and white genre does not make it beside the point whether an ensemble resembles people with recognizable human behavior.
To some degree, it’s impossible to not feel impressed by the audacity of DuVall, an openly gay
woman herself, in wanting to tell an inclusive version of a Christmas story we’ve seen a million
times before. By the same token, it’s disheartening that heterosexuality is still the default mode
of this fare in a frequency that makes films like DuVall’s seem like small miracles. But those grounds
alone aren’t enough to justify the overall clumsiness of “Happiest Season” when most of it looks
unimaginatively lit t ดูหนังออนไลน์ and designed like a cookie-cutter holiday showroom, with
scenes written in the tone of SNL sketches: absurd though not cleverly so, awkwardly humorless and curiously lifeless.