*** 1/2 (three and a half stars)
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.
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