December is here and streaming giant Netflix has unleashed a pile of exclusive, seasonal content. Among the stack of digital offerings, we have flagship feature, The Christmas Chronicles, starring Kurt Russell and A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, following up on last year’s guilty pleasure hit. However, the less overtly festive The Land of Steady Habits dropped way back on September 14, following its premier at the Toronto International Film Festival just two days prior.
Directed by Nicole Holofcener, this transitional drama plays a similar tune to film maker’s previous film, Enough Said; exploring the limbo of post-divorce life, uncertain of the next step and apprehension towards new relationships. Recent retiree, Anders Hill (Ben Mendelsohn), is faced with this very scenario while he remains enamoured of his ex-wife Helene (Edie Falco) and struggles with his son, Preston (Thomas Mann), a recovering addict who’s in a similar idle state. Complicating matters further, Ander’s inadvertently strikes friendship with the rebellious teenage son of mutual friends. With the approach of Christmas in the background, the juxtaposition of a fractured family makes for a rather sombre mood, throughout a story that ponders over choices, desires and where we went wrong. Andres isn’t the greatest person, but is humanised by his blatant flaws, which does warrant sympathy from the viewers. Mendelsohn plays the part well, who’s weathered exterior reflects the character perfectly, while Charlie Tahan is stand out among the supporting cast as teenager Charlie, bringing many of the film’s lighter moments.
The Land of Steady Habits won’t warm your heart, although the casual seasonal flare will serve it well as a title to ease one into more cheerful Christmas viewing. I’m not sure why Netflix pulled the trigger so early, given the prominent family theme, but it’s not to be overlooked.
THE LAND OF STEADY HABITS
(2018, dir: Nicole Holofcener)