Happiest Season: Normalising Abusive Relationships?

Happiest Season is a Christmas set romantic comedy directed by Claire Duvall. The plot sees Harper (Mackenzie Davis), bring her girlfriend Abby (Kristen Stewart), home for Christmas with her family. However, Harper has not told her family that she is a lesbian, nor has she told them about her and Abby’s relationship, so the two are placed into an awkward situation.

I have been looking forward to this one for a while, it was the only new Christmas film this year that I was genuinely excited for, okay maybe Princess Switch 2 as well a little, which makes this all the harder to write. Yes, before I get into the review I will acknowledge that in terms of representation this film is a big step forward, it is certainly the first big, well promoted, LGBTQ+ Christmas film I have ever seen. It is nice to see a Christmas rom com from a non-straight, perspective; hopefully this will be the first of many in Hollywood. That said lets get into why I didn’t like the film.

This to me did not fee like a romantic comedy, hell if anything it felt like a tragedy. The key relationship between Harper and Abby is deeply toxic, Harper outed one of her friends in high school to divert from people finding out that she was a lesbian, and she also treats Abby like absolute dog shit for most of the film; even going so far as to reject her in the films climax. With all that said, I was left infuriated when the two ended up together at the end, they shouldn’t have, Abby deserved better. By showing this ending it almost goes so far as to say Harper’s abusive behaviour is fine or at least not as bad because look they still ended up together.

Moreover, this film wastes it wider, very talented supporting cast. The only character in this film that felt like a real human person was Abby, Kristen Stewart’s performance made me feel something, we the audience felt bonded to her throughout her experience. The same can’t really be said for Davis, who is frequently played as the film’s antagonist, at least that is how I read it, which makes it even more problematic that they ended up together. Additionally, Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza are both in this film and though they each have one pivotal scene for the most part they don’t really do much and their talents are left pretty much wasted.

Overall, if this film had ended with them not together, and this was a comment on toxic relationships and looking out for yourself and loving those who truly love you, then I would have given it higher. However, as is, I find it almost condones emotionally abusive relationships and presents them as normal.

Pros.

Stewart

There are a few funny moments

Cons.

The ending

Having them survive as a couple

Wasting the ensemble

Normalising abuse

2/5

Reviewed by Luke    

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