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Happiest Season – Movie Review

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Happiest Season – Movie Review

Rating: B+ (Very Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy eOne Films

There are plenty of Christmas movies out there, many of which seek to warm viewers with a sweet story. Happiest Season is one such example, telling the familiar story of a woman taking her significant other to visit her family. The film offers a twist by presenting someone afraid of coming out to her family and the effect this has on her girlfriend. Director/co-writer Clea DuVall is able to inject the story with plenty of humour and heart. The winning cast also adds a lot to the movie’s appeal and the ultimate message of Happiest Season is one that will likely resonate with many people.

From the opening scene, the chemistry between Mackenzie Davis and Kristen Stewart is evident and they both share plenty of lovely scenes together. DuVall and Mary Holland’s screenplay portray Harper and Abby as real people in love and they’re immediately likeable upon first meeting them. There are a number of funny scenes between them, but Davis and Stewart also convey the heartbreak that comes with Davis’s Harper Caldwell remaining in the closet when with her family. When we meet the Caldwell family, their eccentricities and quirks are displayed, but we’re never told exactly what their stance on LGBTQ issues are. This works in showing Harper’s uncertainty of how they will react.

Happiest Season includes many funny scenes, with Dan Levy getting the biggest laughs as Stewart’s best friend and closest confidante John. Any time the movie cuts back to him, it’s an absolute joy as he delivers some hilarious zingers. Levy also sells a fantastic monologue that nicely captures the theme of the film. Mary Holland is similarly wonderful as one of Harper’s sisters. She fits the right note in portraying one of the wackier members of the family, not going too far in making her a caricature. Meanwhile, Aubrey Plaza has a strong supporting turn as an ex of Harper’s and the filmmakers thankfully don’t go down the clichéd route one might expect with such a character.

What’s most important about Happiest Season is we care about the two leads. The film does show their flaws, especially with Harper’s continued attempts to deflect from her real identity, and that helps flesh out the characters even more. DuVall isn’t afraid to portray the conflicts that might arise in such a situation and makes sure to emphasize how difficult this is for Abby. One can easily pinpoint the scenes that would have elicited gasps from audiences had this gotten a traditional theatrical release in non-pandemic times. The movie also does the job of delivering good Christmas cheer in a likeable package.

It’s been wonderful to see stories centered on people in the LGBTQ community in recent years as film studios recognise how much they deserve to see themselves on screen. Happiest Season presents a comedy with a familiar dilemma that many have likely faced or will face. There will probably be scenes many will relate to and Clea DuVall has also filled the movie with plenty of talented actors who know exactly how to play these personalities. Those looking for laughs and something in the spirit of the holidays will easily find them in Happiest Season, along with a worthwhile message.

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE