This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
eraserheadBB’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
NOTE: I refer to characters in this review as their actor names, if that annoys well u been warned
Happiest Season delivers on the hype of a hilariously fun queer romcom created by and starring everyone’s favorite queers for queers (Aubrey Plaza and Dan Levy steal every scene they are in), but it 100% pulls a Love Simon in that it fails to hold its characters accountable for the sake of that perfect happy ending.
I early recognized the queer Get Out parallels in that Kirsten Stewart is trapped with this awful white family that the carelessly closeted McKenzie Davis puts her through. In a healthy relationship, this premise would probably not have happened in the first place. It wasn’t much of a problem when the comedy was hitting as much as it was for me, but when the film gets 100% sincere it wraps too much of a bow on something messier and more complicated than presented. Much has been made about McKenzie Davis and Kirsten Stewart’s chemistry, but honestly I see nothing wrong in their perfromances, but in the characterization. When Aubrey Plaza admits to Stewart that Davis outed her in high school when rumors emerged that they were a couple, the palpable drama set by that scene is riveting, yet never delivered upon. Davis gets away with some downright reprehensible bullshit that is too easily solved with a pair of “I love you” monolgoues.
But the biggest discomfort I have with Happiest Season is how it mines it’s drama in the third act. Just like Love Simon, it all adds up to a really horrific outing scene, and just like Love Simon, the straight people in the room, the outer included, are easily forgiven for the absolute bare minimum. Of course the straight people can only relate the experience to their own “secrets”, (as if hiding your divorce and being closeted is one in the fucking same), yet somehow the blame is deflected back to Kirsten Stewart because she doesn’t get how traumatic coming out can be because she was orphaned?!?! Then Dan Levy out of nowhere gives a completely out of character empty monologue directed only to the straights watching on Hulu, and it fucking sucks. The last twenty minutes soured the whole experience.
Being outed is a horrendous feeling. It’s traumatizing, ruins relationships, and steals all agency away from the power of ones queerness. As someone’s who’s lived it firsthand, I could never forgive the classmate who outed me to my best friends. We grew apart, no matter how close we were, how much he apologized, and how much I tried to act like it never happened. It’s real trauma, and this new breed of mainstream queer film prioritize happy endings and genre tropes more than it does holding others accountable for the pain they inflict. And I’m like, why did anyone in this movie need to be outed? Why mine this awful feeling at all? Why not give Kristen Stewart’s character agency to confront this mess head on? Why can’t McKenzie Davis properly come out, dip from the family, so the two of them can really talk their relationship out?!?!?!
The Happiest Season backlash is a little much, but it’s deserved. As nice as it is to see queer films where I know everyone will be happy at the end, maybe it’s time for mainstream films to seek queer liberation vs settling for queer assimilation. I don’t need my bootlicking congressional dad’s approval for shiiiiiiiiiiit. I still had fun, but this movie woulda been a 10 if Aubrey Plaza and Kristen Stewart ran off together.