Happy Christmas (2014)
★ ★ ★ out of 5
Directed by Joe Swanberg
Starring Anna Kendrick as Jenny
Joe Swanberg as Jeff
Melanie Lynskey as Kelly
Lena Dunham as Carson
After a bad breakup just before the holidays, Jenny moves in with her brother Jeff and his writer wife, Kelly, but Jenny proves to be a lot more trouble for them than they expected.
Happy Christmas is the latest experimental mumblecore film from director Joe Swanberg, whose claim to fame is not writing scripts, but giving actors situations for their characters and having them improvise, just to see where the film goes. I could not imagine this going well, or providing a very entertaining film to watch, but I was wrong. While Happy Christmas may not be a great film, or even a very good one, it’s still incredibly charming, and definitely worth watching. The filmmaking may not be great, most scenes rely on one awkward camera angle that is completely stationary, because you can’t really get coverage from lots of different angles in an improvised sequence. I understand, but I can’t forgive it entirely. The film is not very well made, and honestly, you see a lot of better stuff on YouTube in terms of production values, but what makes Happy Christmas entertaining is the talent that they have just being themselves here. Anna Kendrick is very gifted at improv, and while she doesn’t make you laugh much in the film, there’s an emotional resonance that she really hits, and it’s hard to believe a lot of the stuff she’s doing isn’t scripted, it seems to good to just be off the top of her head. Lena Dunham is the comedic relief and she steals every scene she’s in, she says all the funniest lines in the movie, really an enjoyable performance, and one that everyone can relate to, because we all have that one friend who acts exactly like her. Happy Christmas is a charming and entertaining little film that does some great stuff. Never thought something like this would be this enjoyable, again, it isn’t a very good movie, but it is definitely a pleasant surprise.