How to Make the Cruelest Month


Bottom 20% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

1998 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Dramatic Competition


Clea DuVall, Gabriel Mann, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Mary Kay Place, Dennis Haysbert, Frederick Weller

Non-Cast Credits

Kip Koenig, Alison Dickey, Mark Lipson, Caitlin Abramovitz, James R. Hedges, Julian Whatley, Chris Figler, Jodi Ginnever, Jeff Martin


Year after year, New Year's resolutions are made and forgotten as quickly as the night is over. When Bell unearths that year's resolutions on the first of December, she attempts to break the cycle. She has one month left to accomplish the two items on her list: quit smoking and fall in love. She already has a sort of ex-boyfriend, but he doesn't count. So onward and upward.

As she begins her urgent quest, a whirlwind of activity ignites around her and those close to her in this small college town. Bell's eclectic group of friends and bohemian family provide nonstop adventure in her life. Seemingly everything starts to happen, with the exception of the two things on her list. Her parents split up, her ex falls in love with her model younger sister while he's failing out of school, her older sister has a baby, and as for Bell? More cigarettes and no love insight.

How to Make the Cruelest Month is an irresistible, quirky film with a collection of lively characters and hilarious situations. Bell is an absolutely charming protagonist who's intelligent and spirited and boasts a wonderful sense of humor. A brilliant ensemble cast features winsome newcomers Clea DuVall and Gabriel Mann, as well as the established Marianne Jean- Baptiste and Mary Kay Place. Sharply written and directed, Koenig's debut feature is a marvel of welcome humor and freshness, as well as establishing a notable presence of positive women's roles.


Lisa Viola (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.