toyadams’s review published on Letterboxd:
This film is smooth, succinct, and impactful. There isn't one moment that lags or feels burdensome. The whole film just glides perfectly along to its haunting ending, and it stands as one of the most visually gorgeous American movies ever made.
The juicy technicolor permeates this classic, and the cinematography is otherworldly. The Dripping snow and autumnal backdrops are enchanting. Technically and aesthetically, this is a top-notch production through and through. Which brings us the question of content.
Is this, as some suggest, a cookie-cutter case of classic Hollywood melodrama? I am not so sure. I think it is a blistering critique of social stratification and classism using melodrama as the medium.
The very height of this film's impact comes at the end, when in defiance of the cookie-cutter conclusions, the girl and the guy do not end up happily ever after. Instead, we see a bougie widow choose her spoiled bougie children and friends over her own happiness and simple love of her gardener.
At the very end, we see the budding love affair nipped off as mrs. scott's sacrifice fails to earn either her friends or children's affection (the don't truly care anyway; the former are going to do and say what they're going to do and say, and the latter are only concerned insofar as it affects their social class standing). Finally, she spends Christmas Eve alone, watching the world swirl around her, despite her, her friends tucked away with their families, and her children too busy to spend much time with her. Her fading reflection of utter despair in the television screen is a gut-punching moment of both devastation and incredibly dark ironic humor.
Very good film! Even if it does put a bandaid on the emotional void at the very end.
tl;dr: "I gave up my entire life, my happiness, my house, my health, and the only real thing I had felt in years, and all I got from it was this stupid television."