The prolific director Joe Swanberg and his improv-ready cast conjure up an engaging comedy about women probing their identity in "Happy Christmas." Kelly (Melanie Lynskey) and Jeff (played by Swanberg), married with a two-year-old (Swanberg's scene-stealing son Jude), welcome Jeff's screw-up sister Jenny (Anna Kendrick) to their Chicago home for Christmas. Jenny's a mess, prone to binge-drinking and just over a break-up, but she's also a creative spark that Kelly, a novelist stuck in her stay-at-home mom status, needs to get going. The byplay between Lynskey and Kendrick, with a boost from Lena Dunham as Jenny's best friend, opens up funny and emotionally authentic conversations about the perils of women "having it all."
Sean P. Means
"Happy Christmas" screens again at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival: Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Redstone Cinema 2, Park City (Summit County residents have priority; pass holders and others need to wait list); Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at the Eccles Theatre, Park City; and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Library Center Theatre, Park City.