on the pier along the water
24-20 FDR Drive, Service Road East at 23rd Street and the East River, New York, NY 10010
R/6 to 23rd St., walk all the way east.
|8:30 PM||Live Music|
Happy Christmas (Joe Swanberg | 78 min.)
From the first frame of Joe Swanberg's Happy Christmas, there’s an immediate sense of change afoot. The director's first feature shot on 16mm film has the look of a far more polished narrative than of the countless features he has produced over the past decade. That perception is validated by the ensuing story, a tender comedy about the strain of married life and its absence, with the best performances in Swanberg's ever-expanding oeuvre. Sweetly funny and relatable, Happy Christmas builds on the director's previous work by channeling its strongest aspects — naturalism and self-effacing, true-to-life humor — into an utterly enjoyable character study.
Happy Christmas finds Swanberg re-teaming with Drinking Buddies star Anna Kendrick in a convincing role as Jenny, a young woman struggling to get her life in order following a breakup. In an early scene, she crashes with her Chicago-based brother Jeff (Swanberg), who lives a comfortable routine with his wife Kelly (Melanie Lynskey) and their toddler son (Swanberg's real-life son, Jude). But over the course of Jenny's visit, the family confronts its comfort levels, while Jenny drifts between parties and a tentative new romance, dodging pressures to get her act together.
Jenny's lack of accountability emerges when she accompanies her old friend Carson (Lena Dunham) to a house party and promptly gets blackout drunk, forcing her brother to come pick her up in the middle of the night. Jeff and Kelly squabble over whether to let their freewheeling visitor stick around. Eventually, Jenny bonds with Kelly, a stay-at-home mom who aspires to become a novelist, by urging her to write erotic fiction—but even this new direction can’t possibly end well. Overall, Happy Christmas presents a ceaselessly entertaining snapshot of conflicting lifestyles, epitomizing Swanberg’s talent in a nutshell.
- Eric Kohn
Joe Swanberg is the director of many feature films, including Hannah Takes the Stairs, V/H/S, and Drinking Buddies. His work has premiered at the Sundance, Berlin, and SXSW film festivals. As an actor, he has starred in films, including Adam Wingard's A Horrible Way to Die and You're Next and Ti West's The Sacrament, as well as performing in his own work.