White Reindeer Screen 9 articles

White Reindeer

2013

White Reindeer Poster
  • There’s a sorrowful grace to Hollyman’s performance, one that White Reindeer is far more interested in besmirching than honoring. The central joke, if you can call it that, is that outwardly perfect people have dark secrets—bland neighbors who favor bulky Christmas sweaters but turn out to be polyamorous, har dee har har—and vice versa... Everything is tainted by a sneering sense of superiority. It’s like washing down Christmas dinner with rancid eggnog.

  • This is an exceedingly tricky tonal balance to pull off, and White Reindeer doesn’t always succeed in reconciling its quieter, more humane moments with its lurid interludes. There’s a happy medium, for example, between Hollywood’s fantasy notion of sex and this film’s “realistic” take, in which everybody looks ridiculous bordering on grotesque.

  • While many lesser filmmakers would condescend to this environment by presenting narratives of grand self-actualization or discovering "deeper" meaning, Clark refuses such a didactic approach. His film charts a journey into the extremes of human emotion and behavior, going to much darker and weirder places than you might expect, while also grounding that journey in the rhythms of daily life.

  • The director and writer, Zach Clark, eagerly hoards clichés—from the whore with a heart of gold to the swinging neighbors to the holiday obsession with shopping—and gleefully unfolds their promised fantasies... The chipper and heartwarming trip along the seams of the gingerbread suburbs is driven by Hollyman, who shines as a middle-class Everywoman who regains command by losing control.

  • ...What White Reindeer lacks in outright originality, it gains in mischief and tight construction. As well as being his own editor, Clark is also a confident director of comic acting, specializing in touches of oddball delivery that perfectly catch characters’ pitch of embarrassment or gracelessness.

  • Neither experiment eases her suffering, which Ms. Hollyman communicates with congealed movements and an unvaryingly flat affect, which match her coldly impersonal home décor. These give the film a sad, dryly eccentric look that stops just short of alienating. But Mr. Clark finds unexpected heart amid cliché and frigidity.

  • Although the film eventually heads toward a kind of peace — as Suzanne begins to unwittingly make her way toward carving out her own little identity in her own little world — the real pleasure here still lies in watching the madness unfold and escalate. What Clark has captured in this character is a spinning top in mid-bobble, right before it collapses, right before we remember that it can’t just spin forever. White Reindeer is a deliberately awkward little movie, and it’s a hard one to shake.

  • He doesn’t so much oscillate between comic and tragic registers as present the two tones simultaneously, finding both humor in sadness (as when a co-worker comforts Suzanne by offering help . . . selling her home) and sadness in humor (as when a gag about family drama is interrupted by an announcement of divorce). This lends “White Reindeer” a somewhat elusive quality. But that’s precisely what makes the film so unusual — and so unusually appealing.

  • Zachary Clark's White Reindeer is all about a woman’s grieving process—is steeped in it, in fact—and its great strength lies in its determination to work against filmic clichés of that process. Its outstanding set of actors, fantastically chosen soundtrack, and moving, sensitive cinematography make this film so genuine you can almost taste it.