Review: Happiest Season
by Julie Perez
Here’s a sentence that sounds ridiculous when you first read it: Happiest Season is the first-ever-backed-by-a-studio queer romcom.
Written and Directed by Clea DuVall, Happiest Season tells the story of Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis), who are forced back in the closet when they visit Harper’s family for Christmas. Harper has yet to come out to her family so they arrive at her parent’s home with the story that Abby is Harper’s roommate. Though admittedly a lot of Harper’s actions while pretending to be straight made it difficult to root for the couple, by the time you get to the conflict resolution at the end of the film, the audience will find itself completely invested in the happiness of Abby and Harper.
The ensemble cast just works so great together. With amazing appearances from Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen; it’s really Dan Levy and Mary Holland who stole the show for me. Dan Levy plays Abby’s best friend John and though yes, Dan Levy has extreme main character energy; he is the perfect best friend addition to the film. His hilarious quips and sweet pep talks make him stand out amidst the phenomenal cast.
Mary Holland, who also happens to be the co-writer on the film, plays the often-cast-aside sister Jane and we must protect Jane at all costs. Her comedic timing should be celebrated, she takes a character that you would often feel sorry for and turns her into someone who is so unapologetically herself that it makes you proud. The more Mary Holland came on screen, the deeper in love I fell for Jane. I was rooting for her the entire time and that’s truly a testament to Mary Holland’s talent.
Happiest Seasonticks all of the Holiday RomCom boxes; it’s full of awkward family drama, secrets that threaten to ruin Christmas and enough Holiday spirit that makes the film extremely relatable. That’s the thing that Happiest Season gets completely right. Though centered around a queer love story, it does feel like a film that everyone will enjoy. You’re not so much rooting for this couple as you are rooting for the happiness of the entire, chaotic family.
The film does a great job at portraying the inner turmoil that goes on when about to come out to your family and if anything serves as a learning experience to anyone who may not understand the struggle. With all of that being said, personally I am looking forward to many more queer love stories where the main conflict will not be coming out of the closet. While Happiest Season told a necessary and beautiful story, there’s so many layers to the LGBTQ+ community that have yet to be explored. Here’s hoping Happiest Seasonis the first of many studio-backed queer love stories that we can watch during the Holiday Season.
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