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White Reindeer

December 6, 2013

directed by Zach Clark, 2013

white reindeer

“Christmas is whatever you want it to be,” says a character in director Zach Clark’s subversive yet overwhelmingly earnest White Reindeer. Clark’s fourth feature similarly wants to be a lot of things: tragedy, character study, pitch-black comedy. Such a tonally erratic setup suggests a disaster in the making—yet Clark, as not only director but also writer and editor, grounds the film in such a way that, by the end, it broadens into a resonant vision of life and living.

Things are looking up for Suzanne (Anna Margaret Hollyman), a 31-year-old real estate agent living in suburban Virginia with her husband Jeff (Nathan Williams), a TV weather reporter who, in talking about the weather, hints that “anything goes this Christmas”—a line which, it turns out, could aptly serve as the film’s tagline. Suzanne has just closed a home deal with George and Patti, a married swinging couple played Joe Swanberg and Lydia Hyslop; meanwhile, Jeff has received a promotion that will move the couple to Hawaii. All seems well in Suzanne’s life…until one day—within the film’s opening 10 minutes—she comes home to find Jeff brutally murdered after a home invasion. The rest of White Reindeer follows this character as she trudges through the remnants of tragedy while also existing as a beacon of hope.

Read full review at In Review Online

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