Another Christmas season coming right after Halloween and Thanksgiving! It’s a season of celebration, generosity, love, and cheer. Everyone wants to have a perfect Christmas and makes new memories with family and loved one. But in actor-turned-director Clea DuVall’s “Happiest Season”, there’s a secret (spoiler alert: plenty of secrets in fact) that could ruin the happiest season of the year.
Harper (Mackenzie Davis) and Abby (Kristen Stewart) are a lesbian couple, and you can easily sense their perfect loving relationship in the opening scene. Harper invites Abby to spend the holiday with her family, and Abby is planning to ask Harper to marry her on Christmas Day. Everything turns into a disaster when Harper confesses that she hasn’t told her family about their relationship, and her family think both women are straight. So, until Harper comes out of the closet, they must keep this secret till the holiday is over, but can they?
With co-writer Mary Holland (also plays the invisible and confused daughter Jane), director DuVall, who is an openly lesbian, keeps the stakes going high and makes us root for the romance between Abby and Harper. It’s a sharp, clever and heartwarming LGBT+ film produced by mainstream studios, which is still a rare example shockingly. After “Love, Simon”, a brilliant romantic comedy, was sold as the first gay YA rom-com released by the studio, “Happiest Season” is promoted as the first LGBT+ holiday movie (set to released theatrically by Sony, then sold to Hulu due to pandemic).
But don’t blame how “conservative” these major studios are, coming out to family is still an extremely tough decision for many LGBT+ people. Everyone has different stories, and it’s understandable that thing doesn’t go to plan, which becomes one of the most beautiful, touching moments in “Happiest Season”.
As a holiday film made by a major studio, the film is formulaic, predictable, and sometimes silly. It’s apparently not a perfect film, but it has a sincere and earnest on-screen representation that deserves our applause and cheers. Besides beautifully made arthouse films, LGBT+ people should see themselves, also be seen, in this type of weightless rom-coms.
In an isolating, depressing pandemic, the film delivers true joy, which is perfect for queer romance and the holiday season. Like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Elf”, these timeless Christmas films always let us learn the true meaning of the holiday and let families work together through their disfunction. In the end, people deserve to live happily ever after, so does this lesbian couple.
- Distributor: Hulu
- Production: TriStar Pictures, Entertainment One, and Temple Hill Entertainment
- Director: Clea DuVall
- Writer: Clea DuVall and Mary Holland
- Producer: Marty Bowen and Isaac Klausner
- Cast: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Mary Steenburgen, Victor Garber, Alison Brie, Mary Holland, and Aubrey Plaza
- “Happiest Season” available for streaming on Hulu from Nov. 27
Read the review in Chinese