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Film Review: Happiest Season

Everyone has that one Christmas movie that they need to watch every year. Whether it’s a vintage classic like ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, or a nostalgia trip like ‘The Polar Express’- it’s just not Christmas until you sit down and watch that film. And for many people, it’s incredibly likely that Clea DuVall’s wonderful new movie- ‘Happiest Season’- will become that film.

‘Happiest Season’ follows Abby (the brilliant Kristen Stewart) as she spends Christmas with her girlfriend Harper (McKenzie Davis) and her family. But there’s one catch. Harper’s family do not know that Harper is gay, and Abby has to pretend she’s just her roommate until the end of the Christmas season.

There’s a certain fuzziness to ‘Happiest Season’. It’s a quality all the best Christmas films have- ‘Home Alone’, ‘Elf’, ‘Klaus’. When the film is feeling dark and all hope seems to have been lost, there’s an infectious optimism and a heartwarming turn around the corner. It’s a very kind and empathetic film that would make even the Grinch’s heart grow three times.

Though it sometimes deals with darker themes, there’s an excellent sense of humour to the film. Dan Levy gives one of the years best performances as Abby’s friend John- a hilarious comic relief character who not only delivers the films best gags, but also the films most touching moment that had me reaching for the tissues. And then crying. Deeply. And a lot.

The rest of the cast are all uniformly excellent. Kristen Stewart has come a long way from Twilight- delivering what is easily ones of her finest performances. McKenzie Davis is also excellent as Harper- a layered and realistic character who has received what I think is fairly unjust backlash. The supporting cast includes one of the films writers, Mary Holland (who gives a very funny performance as one of Harper’s sisters), Alison Brie (the fantastically icy sister, who could give Scrooge himself a run for his money) and Aubrey Plaza (who gives a very raw performance as Harper’s ex-girlfriend).

The films major success though falls into the hands of the writers- Clea DuVall and Mary Holland. They craft such brilliant, lovable characters that are brought to life perfectly by the ensemble cast. It’s not the world most unique story- films like ‘Meet the Parents’ deal with similar situations- but the writers manage to distinguish it from the rest with their brilliant characters and obvious flair for situational comedy.

The is an argument to be had about the character of Harper, as I briefly mentioned earlier. Many people are debating her likability, and while I think the argument is completely unjust, it’s best that you watch the film and make up your own mind. If you do, we’d love to hear your opinions on the controversy in the comments below.

‘Happiest Season’ is a wonderful Christmas film and one that I enjoyed deeply. I know that for me personally, it’s a film that will become a personal Christmas classic and one that I will enjoy watching every year. Have you seen ‘Happiest Season’? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Our rating:

‘Happiest Season’ is available to rent now on Amazon Prime, YouTube and iTunes.

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