TIFF Review: 'That Time of Year' Explores Drama at Danish Christmas Directed by Paprika Steen

Starring Fanny Bornedal, Lars Brygmann, Sofie Gråbøl, Patricia Schumann, Paprika Steen
TIFF Review: 'That Time of Year' Explores Drama at Danish Christmas Directed by Paprika Steen
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A Danish christmas movie that is anything but jolly, That Time of Year does an impeccable job of capturing simmering family tensions during the holidays.
 
Director Paprika Steen also plays the lead role, Katrine, whose home fills with a mismatched assortment of relatives for Christmas. Her divorced parents both attend, along with her sister Barbara (Sofie Gråbøl), an under-employed priest, who comes with her pretentious husband (Lars Brygmann), and their unruly son. Her estranged sister Patricia (Patricia Schumann) also shows up, back from rehab with a new partner and his adorable wide-eyed little girl, who, excited enough about snow and Christmas, is sweetly oblivious to the drama unfolding around her.
 
Taking place almost entirely during a single night, Steen hones in on small, intimate moments like the family sitting around and opening presents, or reading together. In no rush, the drunkenness steadily increases as the night drags on, as do the backhanded comments and festering resentments that come to light.
 
While Steen does not shy away from dramatic twists, the chaos is rooted in putting distinct, conflicting characters in a room together, and each hectic turn feels believable. It is a deeply relatable comedy that finds humour in family's ability to bring out the worst in each other, while finding moments for tenderness and loyalty too. (Nordisk)