Starring: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Aubrey Plaza
Director: Clea DuVall
Running Time: 102 mins
Happiest Season is an American film about a woman who invites her girlfriend to spend Christmas with her at her parents’ house, but struggles to come out and reveal who she really is.
I really enjoyed this movie. Striking a wonderful balance between cosy, pleasant Christmas joy and an emotionally genuine story, Happiest Season is a delight throughout. As funny as it is touching, it’s the perfect film to make you smile in the festive season, made all the better by an amazing cast, all of whom are working on top form.
We’ve become so accustomed to seeing mediocre Christmas movies churned out on a yearly basis, but Happiest Season is a festive film that I can really see standing the test of time. Relatable and fully genuine, it tells a universal tale of love, conflict and sorrow, all with an unavoidably heartfelt passion for its characters and story.
It’s so easy to make a generic story about family get-togethers at Christmas, from the arguments to all the cheesy and cosy warmth around the fireplace and the tree. However, most films which do so never have any legs to stand on, usually reverting to painfully generic tropes, or at worst bitter and lazy writing (I’m looking at you, Four Christmases).
Happiest Season, however, doesn’t try to be a Christmas movie first and foremost. Instead, it’s an intimate and emotionally pure story that’s fully driven by its characters, mostly Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis, whose relationship hits a roadblock as they’re unable to show their love at Christmas.
Stewart and Davis are really excellent in this film, with excellent chemistry that makes them a wonderful couple, yet each with outstanding individual performances that allows you to understand and empathise with them separately, a key element of this story in the latter stages.
Those kinds of performances are vital in a film which places such importance on its characters, and both leads are more than up to the task, while the incredible supporting cast of Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Mary Holland, Dan Levy, Mary Steenburgen and Victor Garber makes all the difference in crafting a genuine and effective story about family.
And in the end, that’s what Happiest Season is really about. Sure, it’s set at Christmas, but this is a movie which uses the circumstance of the holiday to tell a great story about people, rather than shoehorning people into a cheesy festive extravaganza.
In all truth, Happiest Season doesn’t have to be a Christmas movie, and with its excellent blend of drama, romance and humour, it more than stands on its own legs without the festive cheer, but that’s just the icing on a truly delicious cake.
Touching, funny, relatable, well-written and so well-acted, Happiest Season is a brand-new treasure of Christmas cinema. Prioritising characters and genuine, heartfelt drama, the film counts on brilliant performances to tell a thoroughly engaging and emotionally captivating story throughout. So, that’s why I’m giving Happiest Season a 7.8 overall.