As mentioned in the title,Happiest season, ”The second movie out Clea Duvall, opened on a picturesque Christmas scene. Abby (Kristen Stewart) and her friend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) are on a Christmas decorations tour in the neighborhood and Harper tries to get Abby in the holiday mood. After a headstrong foray on a rooftop, the couple’s night ends with giggles and kisses. Trapped in the moment, Harper begs Abby to spend the vacation with her and her family.
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“If that doesn’t convince you to love Christmas,” says Harper, “I’ll never mention it again.”
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The film will undoubtedly have its critics – the bulk of them from the queer community itself. With so few mainstream gay and lesbian offerings per year, these films are kept strictly by the audience they want to please. They are either too mediocre or too brave, too mainstream or too outre – too “Dear Simon“Or”Duck butter. In the case of “Happiest Season”, this caution began long before the film premiered on November 25th, as “Happiest Season” is yet another coming-out story on screen. Some consider this premise too good in queer cinema, where same-sex romance often culminates in rejection, tragedy, and / or death.
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A challenge for these people: if this movie doesn’t convince you to love a story that’s coming out, I’ll never bring it up again.
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Harper tries to forego her ecstatic invitation, and as she and Abby drive to her parents’ house we learn why: Harper still hasn’t come out to see her mother (Mary Steenburgen) and father (Victor Garber). The film follows Abby, who is now inadvertently at the center of a heterosexual charade and has to try not to collapse under the pressure of ruse.
And that pressure is certainly increasing. Not only does Abby pretend to be straight herself, but she also watches as Harper’s parents dizzy try to bring Harper together with their high school boyfriend and give their other daughter’s husband a warm hug like a son. But it’s also immediately clear why Harper is so afraid to come out. In this world, lesbianism is a “lifestyle choice” and “our foundation is based on family, tradition and belief”.
That nuance, as well as a truly stellar cast, save this occasionally anemic script from Duvall and Mary Holland. Not how “Lez bomb, ” Jenna Laurenzo2018 comedy with a similar premiseHappiest seasonResists didactics. Abby is not a saint who endlessly accepts Harper’s false evasions, nor a monster who tries to berate her friend from the closet. Stewart acts with characteristic serenity and exudes a strong vulnerability that is only reinforced by the high height of her costar. (Davis makes it look tiny. It is splendidOnly an equally versatile performer could act alongside such generosity without looking like a full ogre. And Davis like Harper. Stewart has incredible chemistry with everyone in the film, especially Davis. But when it comes down to it, it’s Davis who gets the most heartbreaking lines – and she delivers the hell out of them.
Stewart and Davis are backed by veterans Garber and Steenburgen, who also undertake the Herculean task of turning Hollywood Republican parents into people. Alison Brie and Mary Holland also shine as Harper’s sisters: an overcompetitive perfectionist and a marginalized madwoman. Daniel Levy brings the brightest moments and funniest lines in the movie to every scene as Abby’s best friend John.
The film isn’t flawless: its physical comedies are odd at best, and its chaotic climax is too easy to resolve. But his wholesome cheers and profitable performances (and here again Davis and Stewart’s delightful elevation gain) will make you feel comfortable. Self-proclaimed Grinches may even feel their hearts grow back to normal. [B]
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“The Happiest Season” debuts on November 25th in Hulu.