That Time Of Year (Den tid på året) (2018)

PAPRIKA STEEN

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.  , 2018, , , .  Screenplay by .  Produced by .  Music by Production Design by . Costume Design by Stine Gudmundsen-Holmgreen.  Film Editing by Jacob Thuesen.  Toronto International Film Festival 2018.  

Anyone who has watched The Family StoneHome For The Holidays or a ton of other liked-minded films will be happy to see them improved upon by the excellent dialogue and energetic direction in this latest entry in the genre.  Director Paprika Steen plays hostess to her resentful minister sister, her bitterly divorced parents, her terrified in-laws, her patient husband and flustered children.  When her former addict younger sister makes a surprise visit with a new husband and step-daughter in tow, it throws everything into a flurry of awkward conversations that lead to painful truths as this very dysfunctional, badly scarred clan tries to keep up their holiday traditions while doing their best to avoid direct confrontations.  It has more than a few narrative secrets that are obvious from the beginning (Steen’s daughter has something she’s been trying to tell her since the morning and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what it is), but the playing out is so compellingly well done that it feels more comforting and reassuring than tired or passe.  The entire cast is superb, with Karen-Lise Mynster the best of the bunch as the matriarch whose lack of self-awareness causes untold damage to those around her, while Steen constantly trying to balance her anger at her family with her kindness to her sister’s new kid provides the film’s most endearing moments.

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