Happy Christmas screened at this year's Sundance Film Festival. It has been picked up for distribution by Magnolia Pictures with a summer 2014 theaterical release in mind. This is an early review.
Last year’s Drinking Buddies proved to be a modest indie success and Joe Swanberg’s first major breakthrough. Those impressed with Drinking Buddies are likely to find much to like in Swanberg’s follow-up and those who weren’t may find themselves disarmingly surprised by the warmth that exudes through the frames of Happy Christmas. Shot on 35mm film, Happy Christmas is certainly the prettiest film Swanberg has ever submitted - Ben Richardson’s vivid colors offer a nice contrast to the rural visages he captured in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Happy Christmas also functions as a logical continuation of what worked in Drinking Buddies - the improvisational acting and sense of community within its social circle - and improves upon it with better performances and a tighter sense of narrative direction. But in spite of the quantum leap in storytelling, performances, and production, Happy Christmas is plagued by the same problem that kept Drinking Buddies from ever registering as beyond slight: Joe Swanberg’s passionless direction.Read More