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MiNDFOOD reviews ‘Happiest Season’

Photo by: Lacey Terrell, © 2020 CTMG, Inc.

MiNDFOOD reviews ‘Happiest Season’

Who doesn’t love a Christmas rom-com? From Sleepless in Seattle to Love Actually, the genre of moving, feel-good seasonal schmaltz is one not likely to go away any time soon.

MiNDFOOD reviews ‘Happiest Season’

This year, Happiest Season is the most feted Christmas film to hit our screens. Kristen Stewart stars as Abby, a happily gay and ‘out’ young woman who is invited home for Christmas by her girlfriend, Harper (Mackenzie Davis).

It’s only as they approach the family home that Harper belatedly confesses she is not out to her parents nor indeed anyone in her home town, and that they will have to pretend to be ‘just roommates’ for the five-day stay. Abby reluctantly agrees and naturally, all sorts of clandestine hijinks and misunderstandings ensue as the two try to navigate Harper’s parents, her two sisters, her ex-boyfriend and her (secret) ex-girlfriend.

Photo by: Jojo Whilden, © 2020 CTMG, Inc.

With a supporting cast including Alison Brie, Mary Steenburgen and Daniel Levy, Happiest Season is good fun and after a bunch of complications, has the requisite Christmassy happy ending.

Clea Duvall, the film’s director and co-writer, set out to make a positive, optimistic, heartwarming film, celebrating all the tropes that make holiday movies a sheer joy, told in a way that audiences had not seen before.

“I wanted to make a by-the-book, happy, bright, warm romantic comedy. There are a lot of LGBTQ films that are beautiful but skew more dramatic. The LGBTQ community deserves happy endings sometimes.”

Kristen Stewart jumped at the chance to play the lead in a comedy featuring a gay couple: “I didn’t find that the characters [were] tokenised, or changed from straight characters into gay ones because it’s time to jump on that bandwagon. It was specific, careful, funny and genuine, and I’d never seen anything like that – especially not from a studio.”

For Stewart, who says she would have loved to have seen more movies featuring LGBTQ+ couples growing up, Happiest Season is long overdue.

“It was important to us to make a movie that was not only grounded in reality and the intense drama behind certain family dynamics, but one that is also light and fun and relatable. It’s a heartwarming, slightly stressful and manic Christmas movie – which are definitely my favourite ones, because that is what Christmas actually feels like,” she laughs. “I love Christmas – it’s just that it can be a complicated time.”

Photo by: Lacey Terrell, © 2020 CTMG, Inc.

Daniel Levy (Schitt’s Creek), plays Stewart’s best friend, John in one of the film’s truest seeming relationships. “A lot of people, particularly members of the LGBTQ+ community, don’t have supportive families, so they have to turn to their friends in those moments,” he says. “This movie does a really lovely job of marrying family and found family, and celebrating both.”

Perhaps the only disappointing aspect for me was the expectation that Harper’s father, Ted who is gunning to be voted Mayor, would only get the nod if he was considered to have the ‘perfect’ family and that this did not include owning up to a family member who was gay.

Although LGBTQ+ movie-goers watching the movie may be happy there is finally a mainstream Christmas rom-com centring on a gay couple, the implication that they would not be accepted or included as a member of a so-called ‘perfect’ family might be a depressing notion for some younger, more inclusively-minded viewers.

Happiest Season is now playing at cinemas nationwide in Australia and New Zealand.

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