Weekly Movie Review: ‘Happiest Season,’ A heartwarming outlook on the struggles of identity as an LGBTQ+ individual

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Mishal Nizar

“Happiest Season” is a heartwarming coming-out story with a holiday spin.

Cache Merriweather

The first thought that comes to my mind when I think of a traditional holiday movie is a small-town girl who moves to the city and meets the love of her life on a snowy winter day. They share a passionate kiss on Christmas day, and that is how it ends. I believe this is a typical holiday movie layout. It has been overdone, reused, and abused for decades, but we still love them because they are fun and familiar. However, “Happiest Season” is not that. While it has its cliches and a happy ending, there is something about this movie that is very refreshing to watch.

I have watched a plethora of LGBTQ+ movies in my time. There are very few movies in the genre that portray lesbian couples as relatively happy. Lesbian movies can often be described as tragic or morbid. Recently, this stigma has faltered, but it remains apparent in the film world. However, “Happiest Season” does not give off this feeling whatsoever.

“Happiest Season” starts with the main characters, Harper and Abby, played by Mackenzie Davis and Kristen Stewart, walking through a light show. It is revealed that Abby does not like Christmas due to the death of her parents 10 years prior on the same day. Her girlfriend Harper, wants her to feel the magic of Christmas, so she offers to bring Abby home with her to meet her parents. At first, this seems to be just a typical “girlfriend meets a crazy family” movie until we find out that Harper lied about coming out to her parents and telling them about Abby the year before. This creates an argument between the two ending in Abby agreeing to act like her roommate as long as Harper agrees to tell her family about them the day after Christmas.

This setup creates a film full of drama, secrets, and tension between Abby and Harper throughout. I think this movie is unrealistically realistic in the sense that anyone in the LGBTQ+ community could relate to it while also having those exciting moments in the film that most would otherwise see as ridiculously irrational. However, to me, to make a movie interesting, there needs to be a lifestyle or creation of characters who I would never come across in my day to day life. This has exactly that. While I can wholeheartedly relate to the internal homophobia and fear that is coming out to one’s parents, I cannot begin to relate to living in a well-off family who have everything laid out for them on a silver platter. But, this is exactly why I love this movie so much.

For me, coming out was terrifying. The adrenaline rush and the fear of telling my friends and family about my sexuality that is so heavily rejected by the public eye was overwhelming, and I believe this movie did that notion justice. Abby and Harper are continuously seen going back and forth through the motions of wanting to be themselves around the family whilst being undeniably afraid of what their family members would think of their relationship. While Abby is completely comfortable with who she is, Harper noticeably is not when she is around her family and childhood friends. They all want her to be and portray her to be a perfect daughter and sister. The stress that comes with putting on a facade combated with who she truly is makes her question her identity, and I think it is something that the majority of people within the LGBTQ+ community can relate to.

The adventure is a drama-filled, meaningful, and heartwarming journey that keeps the watchers wanting more. The characters and some scenes may seem cliche and one-note at times, but the execution is not. Aside from the typical gay best friend and crazy sister trope, the characters are well-developed in their feelings and emotions. There are moments where Harper or other characters make decisions that make no sense, but it is quickly forgotten with a quick explanation or scene change. There is a lot of raw emotion that goes into this film, and I appreciate it for that. It is not your typical sad lesbian love story, but rather a heartwarming and emotional tale in which one comes to terms with her identity with the help of her loving girlfriend by her side.

“Happiest Season” is a Christmas film that I would encourage anyone who loves good-feeling coming out films to watch. I would rate this movie an 8/10 due to the attention-grabbing drama and uplifting nature it exhibits as a coming-out Christmas film. It is a production that I think suits Kristen Stewart very well, finally setting her apart from the well-known role as Bella in the “Twilight” series. It is a breath of fresh air to have a movie that is relatable to a community that is often used in films as comedy relief or to earn that special badge of diversity. All of that combined with the warm feeling of the holiday season, and it is something short of an utterly joyful work of art.