Directed by Joe Swanberg
Starring Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynsky, Lena Dunham, Joe Swanberg, Mark Webber
While Joe Swanberg's dramedy may sound like a fun, Christmas-themed time, it's a dark, sometimes humorous, glimpse into adulthood and finding yourself. There are quite a few pieces that do not fit together throughout, but the performances by Melanie Lynsky and Anna Kendrick make this a mumblecore film worth seeing.
Set in Chicago, Kendrick stars as Jenny, a young, twentysomething who has recently broken up with her boyfriend and chooses to crash at her brother's house until she gets herself back in control. Jenny is the epitome of lost millenials who feel confident and unsure all at the same time. Her brother Jeff, played by the film's director Swanberg, has things together, as does his writer wife, Kelly (Lynsky), or so we think. Jenny's first night is spent boozing it up at a party and Kelly immediately shares her disapproval. Over a quick amount of time, though, we find Kelly choosing to spend an afternoon drinking beer with Jenny and her friend Carson (played hilariously perfect by Lena Dunham). During this romp, Kelly uncovers some hidden desires for her own future outside of just housewife/motherhood. The film becomes a tale of finding self-worth no matter where you are in life. And, it succeeds at its overall goal, mostly.
The key to the film is the honest portrayals by the entire cast, thanks mostly to Swanberg's filmmaking style. He's a champion for skeleton scripts and improvisation, which makes this film and his others feel more like introspective home videos than narratives.
The film is an easy watch, but it's somewhat hard to swallow. The characters are believable and even likeable, to a degree, but there are enough uncomfortably real moments where you're not sure if you're supposed to laugh or cringe. An argument to that could be that, perhaps, that's the point. Life has a lot of cringe-worthy moments that could double as perfect dark comedy. Maybe Swanberg is onto something with his storytelling abilities and his filmmaking habits.
Happy Christmas is a great, middle-of-summer treat and will definitely resonate with my generation. We haven't quite figured out who we are just yet.
Runtime: 88 minutes