‘White Reindeer’ is a particularly dark anti-Christmas comedy

Anna tk spends Christmas grieving unimaginable loss in "White Reindeer." Credit: IFC Films
Anna Margaret Hollyman spends Christmas grieving unimaginable loss in “White Reindeer.”
Credit: IFC Films

‘White Reindeer’
Director: Zach Clark
Stars: Anna Margaret Hollyman, Laura Lemar-Goldsborough
Rating: R
3 (out of 5) Globes

With the toxic pomp and pep it engenders, the holidays essentially ask for films (and songs, and books, and people) that try to destroy, or at least alleviate, its power. “White Reindeer” goes father than most. Its hero, Suzanne (Anna Margaret Hollyman), is a Christmas fanatic who can’t help but turn on holiday music soon as Thanksgiving ends. (Some people may consider that a bit late.) Returning home one night she finds her suburban house ransacked and her husband dead on the floor with a massive head wound.

“White Reindeer” walks a very, very fine line. It’s technically a black comedy, but it’s also an empathetic drama that takes its protagonist’s subsequent mental breakdown with bewildering seriousness. Suzanne may be overly festive, but she’s no freak. Even in the early, happy stretch, Hollyman plays her as relatively low-key; she’s not a joy monster, just a bit sheltered. Shocked into a zombie state, she no longer takes comfort from kitschy holiday e-cards, which play, piercingly, over shots of her staring dead-eyed and motionless.

What transpires is reminiscent of Bill Forsyth’s terrific anti-Christmas classic “Comfort and Joy,” in which a Glasgow DJ who spends the holiday in a funk after being whimsically dumped, then tries to distract himself by getting involved in an absurdly overheated war between rival ice cream trucks. In “White Reindeer,” Suzanne simply has access to her late husband’s internet browsing history. She discovers he had a thing for strip bars. Rather than angrily confront his favorite dancer (Laura Lemar-Goldsborough) — stage name: Autumn; real name: Fantasia — she’s open about her motives and winds up befriending her. Soon the two are doing coke at clubs.

What she wants is still self-serving and questionable: She desires access outside her white middle class existence, and Fantasia is the key. “White Reindeer” is aware of this, and it makes Fantasia a full-bodied human, with a daughter and bills to pay and a sense of autonomy. Lemar-Goldsborough plays her as intelligent and soft-spoken, and writer/director Zach Clark gives her and Hollyman gentle, calm scenes where the comedy drops and serious, thoughtful discussions take over.

Occasionally the film trips. Suzanne’s attempts to infiltrate a world of suburban swingers turns judgmental and broad in a way her journeys into the stripper-verse (mostly) do not. It’s a film trying to delve into the non-dramatic areas of inconsolable pain. And like many before it, it’s not quite sure how to end.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Turkey: Voting begins in country's first direct presidential…

Some 53 million people are able to vote in the election, including 2.8 million citizens abroad. Until now, Turkish presidents were elected by parliament.

News

Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia…

By Patrick Markey and Aziz El YaakoubiTRIPOLI (Reuters) - Black plumes of smoke marked shell blasts and bulldozed earthen barricades mapped out the frontlines around…

Breaking: News

Russia mad about sanctions, says U.S. contributing to…

Russia reacted angrily on Saturday to additional sanctions imposed by the European Union over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, saying they would hamper cooperation…

National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Television

'Game of Thrones' livens up Comic Con with…

By Piya Sinha-RoySAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Laughter and death did battle on Friday at HBO's "Game of Thrones" panel at Comic Con, one of the…

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Sports

Kevin Love becomes third NBA player to pull…

Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves became the third NBA player to withdraw from consideration for Team USA in next month's World Cup, USA Basketball.

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.