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Happiest Season Film Review (2020) [Tis the season of inclusivity]

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Today i’m going to be reviewing Happiest Season. A film that seeks to add some diversity to the Christmas rom-com genre. It has both naughty and nice moments so hold your ice skates and hear me out.

Happiest Season Film Cast

Kristen Stewart … Abby
Mackenzie Davis … Harper
Mary Steenburgen… Tipper
Victor Garber … Ted
Alison Brie … Sloane
Mary Holland … Jane

Happiest Season Film Storyline

Happiest season tells the story of Abby and Harper. A couple who are spending their first Christmas together at harper’s parents’ house. The problem her parents do not know she is gay. She is not yet ready to tell them. In many ways happiest season is like every other Christmas film.

It has family drama Christmas is almost ruined and all of the critical events happen before Christmas day on which all the matters are resolved. Obligatory happy family montage that said there are many aspects of this film that are not typical.

Firstly let’s address the biggest selling point. Abby and harper a non-heterosexual couple. Finally there is an obscene amount of Christmas films almost all of them forgettable. A teeny tiny amount of them have any sort of inkling of diversity in every sense of the word. One of the most famous Christmas rom-coms love actually which has eight intertwining stories does not have a single non-heterosexual couple. So it is about damn time that we get some more inclusive Christmas films.

It is one of the most celebrated holidays worldwide, be it for religious or retail reasons. It deserves to have a better range of experiences shown on film. On the other hand happier season does center on a white couple. The dramas of a rich white family. The surrounding cast does have a good mix of people but the predominant faces we see are white.

I do see how this was appropriate for this story which aims to keep us guessing as to whether this family which is part of a confusingly diverse yet very judgmental social circle will end up accepting or rejecting their daughter. Hey it’s a Christmas film so you can guess what happened. What saves the somewhat stereotypical story and characters is the writing which is worlds better than the usual dribble. You get in romantic Christmas films.

There is some absolutely fantastic comedy delivered in this very blunt and effective way with one-liners snuck into conversations. That made me want to spit out my popcorn. When i heard them this comedy was primarily delivered by the characters of the uptight mother, gay best friend, and quirky little sister. All three of these characters when described this way give you a good idea of what these stereotypes should act and sound like. But they have been given enough care and attention to make them better than this. Especially the gay best friend john.

When things go belly up and john comes in to give advice to Abby. He actually provides a useful perspective and gives meaningful dialogue. Rather than being the cliché and occasional snap kind of gay best friend. He is actually being a good friend to Abby.

Furthermore rather than having an overly dramatic breakup fuelled by i thought you loved me lines and running away rather than confronting the situation. Abby and harper have genuine adult conversations that are worthy of a couple that have been together for this long.

Performance wise everyone had a good rapport with one another. I am sure largely helped by the good writing. Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis had good chemistry as a couple. I must say that Stewart should consider doing more comedies. She is quite good at them.

I saw a review that criticized this film for picking a part of the queer experience that the reviewer deemed overdone coming out to the parents. Since i cannot draw upon personal experiences i consulted some of my friends who watched the film and identify as LGBTQ plus and they said that a big part of their experience is coming out. And a lot of people choose to do it over the holidays. So with anything this film is the perfect vehicle to carry this story. I understand that it could be deemed cliché.

If there were loads of other Christmas films that were identical to this one. There aren’t and that’s part of the problem. If we do get to a stage where i could call a film with a story like this overdone then i would welcome it. Because it would mean that we’d have achieved a much better variety in the genre. It does make me think that perhaps happiest season has established a good base for a sequel in which maybe there’s a new family drama, in a new holiday and these characters get to finally be themselves. So it becomes less about coming out and more about being out.

In the first scene where we see Abby and Harper they are clumsy and adventurous. A perfect combination for a series of films, especially if they are as well written and acted as this one. Cinematography and editing wise there isn’t much to say. I didn’t notice anything particularly creative about either, but that’s understandable. I didn’t expect there to be much experimentation given that the goal was not to be visually exciting.

Happiest Season Film: My Opinion

In my opinion the pace was good. Harper’s continued meanness is increasingly frustrating and is a little repetitive. This was more of a narrative technique to align us with Abby rather than an issue with pace. I could have definitely done without the obligatory family montage that i mentioned but it’s become a hallmark of the genre. So i understand why it’s there.

At times i felt like the school was a little too emotionally leading, especially in the climax where it pre-empted the resolution rather than accompanying it. It also felt like it overwhelmed some scenes where silence would have been stronger. If anything this is where they could have been more creative to stand out amongst other Christmas films and create a more memorable soundtrack.

One thing i will mention that really gave a little extra judge to the film is the costumes. Kristen Stewart especially was absolutely killing it in those outfits. Frankly i don’t know how anyone could ignore her in those boring parties given how stand out she looked. Jane as the quirky little sister was also given some really memorable outfits with some nice items that really spoke to her character, and made her even more delightful when she came on screen.

Overall happiest season is a much needed and refreshing addition to the Christmas rom-com genre. Well-written three-dimensional characters and comedy that packs a punch. It is not just a film for the LGBTQ plus community but one that everyone can enjoy this holiday season. Thank you!

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