Happiest Season review round-up: Critics praise Kristen Stewart’s ‘magnetic’ performance in lesbian rom-com

Ellie Harrison
·2-min read
Mackenzie Davis and Kristen Stewart in Happiest Season (Hulu)
Mackenzie Davis and Kristen Stewart in Happiest Season (Hulu)

Critics have heaped praise on Kristen Stewart’s new movie Happiest Season, comparing it to “warm comfort food”.

The romantic comedy, from actor and filmmaker Clea DuVall, stars Stewart as Abby, a young woman who plans to propose to her girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) while at her family’s house for Christmas. She then discovers her partner hasn’t yet come out to her conservative parents.

The film also stars Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Mary Steenburgen and Daniel Levy.

In a four-star review for The Guardian, Benjamin Lee described the movie as “warm comfort food at a time when many of us need it the most”.

He added that there is a “level of nuance and grit that one wouldn’t usually expect from something quite so festive” and said of its lead: “Stewart, who isn’t always the most comfortable in a broader studio setting, works incredibly well here, selling her nervy, and often very funny, comic moments while also adding depth to some of the last act sentiment. There’s an effortless chemistry between her and Davis.”

Empire’s Ella Kemp wrote: “Stewart plays the frustration of keeping Harper’s secret perfectly, her often chilly physicality softening a bit in the name of love – the star infuses her performance with a sense of control, conveying moments of both comedy and vulnerability.”

Digital Spy critic Gabriella Geisinger said: “Happiest Season is not a melodramatic pantomime of the whole coming-out-and-meeting-the-family at Christmas experience, but a grounded, realistic one, still sprinkled with holiday magic. Kristen Stewart manages to keep her trademark smouldering energy and rework it into soft, endearing charm.”

Happiest Season was also given a positive review in The Hollywood Reporter, with David Rooney writing: “The movie's conventional nature turns out to be a virtue, staking a queer claim on an American Christmas tradition in which LGBTQ characters have long been relegated to the sidelines.”

He added that the ensemble cast is “led with a disarming mix of coolness and vulnerability by the always magnetic Kristen Stewart”.

Indiewire’s Jude Dry, however, was not so convinced. They wrote: “It’s oddly disconcerting that a proudly LGBTQ movie could be so emphatically apolitical. Rather than being a queer film, which connotes a political or at least somewhat subversive perspective, Happiest Season is a definitively lesbian movie. It’s not trifling in complicated topics like identity or civil rights — beyond the rights of a rich white girl to come out to her conservative family.”

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