Happy Christmas is a story of an irresponsible twenty-something that moves in with her brother and sister-in-law after she experiences a breakup with her boyfriend in Chicago. Anna Kendrick plays Jenny who is a catalyst for all things good and bad in this real life drama and she shines in her performance. The supporting cast (Melanie Lynskey and Joe Swanberg) work perfectly together to string this hum drum family together and add in the help of her friend (Lena Dunham) and you have a small, gritty film that imitates life and the people that we know.
(Side note - this is clearly a great case to get Anna Kendrick on Girls! Her chemistry with Lena Dunham was fantastic and Anna could bring a lot to that already great show. Come on Lena!)
This film is completely performance driven and everyone delivers. I would compare this type of film to Rachel Getting Married as it follows family and trials and tribulations of someone who's life is not going the way they would like it to go. Every action has a reaction and the long shots that the director, Joe Swanberg, went with show this drama unfold perfectly. The cinematography, along with those long shots, make the film seem more realistic and puts you into the heart of each character. You laugh with them, you are hopeful for them, you want to choose their actions, and then you are angry at them for what they decide and that they did not listen to you.
The only thing is that I didn't get a chance to really put my heart into Jenny's character - yes, you do see her at the bottom and starting to climb, but I needed a spark with her and I would have went a little more in depth of a feeling for her either way her choices took her. I could relate with some of her choices and what she was doing, but without that spark I was just a spectator and not fully "in it to win it" with her.
The timing of this movie being released and that it is titled Happy Christmas is brilliant, as it helps with the grittiness of the feel and the emotions of the actions. I do not feel it's Christmas outside (because it is June) and I did not feel like it was Christmas in that household because of the tone and mood of the very real characters.
Very well done and if you have seen Drinking Buddies - You will want to see this. I am a big fan of Joe Swanberg and look forward to his next project.
I watched this with VOD and headphones on a laptop. Just another way you can be alone in a theater and connect completely with the subject you are viewing.