“White Reindeer”: Unexpected Tragedy Is the Gift of the Season

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.

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