Harper (Mackenzie Davis) and Abby (Kristen Stewart) are in love. Their friends and coworkers know, but Harper’s family has no idea that she is a lesbian. However, the two decide to spend what is meant to be the Happiest Season of the year with this incredibly conservative family, as Harper hopes to finally come out to them. Because her father is running for mayor, their relationship and feelings end up on the backburner. As the Christmas season plays out, their relationship is tested more than ever. Can love prevail?
Davis and Stewart have established themselves in Hollywood as young, eccentric, talented individuals capable of playing a wide range of roles. Action, drama, and comedy are all genres that the two have taken part in, and Happiest Season feels different and much more intimate than their previous roles. There is a clear connection between Harper and Abby, and while this is partially due to the writing of director Clea DuVall and Mary Holland, it also speaks to the talent of the two leads.
Davis is wonderful. From the moment she steps on screen, viewers are excited to see her character grow. While there are a series of unexpected twists and turns in Harper’s development, Davis can depict each one with just the right amount of gusto. Stewart, however, is the star of the show. From minute to minute, she is asked to express intimacy, rejection, heartbreak, and love. She is tasked with so much and delivers in every single moment.
“As the Christmas season plays out, their relationship is tested more than ever.”
To supplement both Davis and Stewart is Dan Levy as Abby’s friend, John. While he initially comes off as too expressive and a bit over the top, Happiest Season sees him progress into something brilliant. While staying true to the character audiences initially meet, John eventually becomes a voice of reason in an otherwise screwed up world. As his character becomes more and more important, viewers appreciate Levy’s talent and ability to help the leads shine.
Sometimes, there are instances in movies that seem far too coincidental and forced in order to make sense of certain situations. Happiest Season manages to develop legitimate reasons as to why everything takes place. Nothing feels fabricated or untrue, and that allows the story to run smoothly. This highlights the sheer precision of the screenplay. Much of what takes place in Happiest Season is unfamiliar to me, meaning it can be difficult to comprehend. DuVall and Holland, however, do a wonderful job of creating a script that allows the cast to express these situations in a fashion that feels incredibly believable, even to outsiders.
The emotion present in the film’s finale is enough to make anyone tear up, especially those familiar with scenarios of this nature. Again, even from the outside looking in, I am able to appreciate Harper and Abby’s struggles and feel emotionally connected to them. Happiest Season opens the eyes of its viewers to the ridiculousness of judgment, the struggles of coming out, and the importance of love and family. Every moment of the film is emotionally enthralling, perfectly bittersweet, and calculatedly daring, leading viewers down a beautiful path of hope and love that should award Happiest Season the success that it deserves.
"…emotionally enthralling, perfectly bittersweet, and calculatedly daring…"