Happiest Season is a quintessential Christmas film directed by Clea DuVall with protagonists Abby (Kristen Stewart) and her partner Harper (Mackenzie Davis). The story follows the trajectory of closeted partner Harper introducing Abby to her family for the first time in a year. However, for now, she is only her roommate.
Apart from being a Christmas delight, this film captures multiple double standards found in families. From odd familial obligations in politics, to the duplicity of expectations in a family that seems perfect yet isn’t, this Christmas movie has enough grit and guile to turn the warmth on its head. A sterling act by Dan Levy, who plays John, Abby’s best friend, acts as the conduit for sewing an LGBTQ love story from different perspectives of familial functionality into something as traditional as roasting chestnuts on an open fire.
When we watch warm and gooey films like this, the question often arises is whether we should consider the plot authentic. For this film, director DuVall mentions how her film is a semi-autobiographical take on her personal experiences. American dramas are often laced with social issues in which the film’s context is situated. We see how the family reacts to Abby being an orphan to how Harper needed to feel threatened to come out to her family.
The topic of ‘coming out’ continues to be one of the heavier ones. The beautiful script of this film covered the varying experiences of each individual with coming out, regardless of where they live. This does raise questions. Why does one continue to need to declare their identity or orientation openly? Unfortunately, as shown in the film, the world continues to function through the binary lens.
Being a comedy-drama, we see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is not a Christmas movie if it does not have a happy ending. But at the same time, Harper’s big reveal could have gone wrong in several ways. This film covers everything from mirroring the constant struggle within the community to openly be themselves to touching upon how no one is perfectly.
When Harper visits her hometown with her live-in partner, Abby learns a lot about her past that she was not aware of. Including that Harper had once shamed her ex, Riley (Aubrey Plaza), for stalking her. Harper ended up outing her before she was ready to come out to the world. We also get insight into the crazy world of competition within the siblings of Harper’s family, all for the approval of their parents.
Not only is this a break from typifying the LGBTQ community in the industry, but the film also highlights the struggles of a dysfunctional family. Stewart perfectly portrayed the role of a girl with boundaries considering her contextual past of loss and grief. However, Harper comes through in the end. Let’s be honest; we all love a fulfilling romance in this cold age of swiping left and right. Give this must-watch a shot as summer is ready to take a leave from our lives this year. Check out the trailer here.