White Reindeer

Zach Clark’s dark comedy lobs an indie rebuke at our annual obligation of trudging through prefab holiday cheer only to wind up waist-deep in shredded gift wrap and feeling the undertow. In that regard, White Reindeer goes on for a while without quite being part of the solution, but eventually delivers the seasonal moviegoing equivalent of double-spiking your eggnog. Anna Margaret Hollymon coolly glows as a bland suburban realtor who loves Christmas and her husband, but, during the fun familiar run-up to the big day, finds herself suddenly bereaved. Feeling hollowed out instead of holly-jolly, she’s utterly at a loss. An online-shopping binge leads to fantasized fellowship with a sweater-model, and to hubby’s incriminating browser history; soon she discovers, and befriends, the stripper (Laura Lemar-Goldsborough) with whom he had a fling. Helpfully, too, her sugar-cookie-sweet new neighbors (Lydia Hyslop, Joe Swanberg) greet the season with a swinging orgy. Clark overplays his widow-gone-wild hook, getting a tad too proud of the not-original suggestion that sickening Christmas-season consumption might actually be less healthy than a ladies’ night of booze and blow. And his pacing seems unintentionally too dirge-like, even for a movie about working through grief. But ultimately he’s done us a service; it’s good to have available a film so genuinely sensitive to the particular emotional aches this season sometimes exacerbates.