“The Holdovers”: New Holiday Film Is Special

If there’s a theater movie I’ve enjoyed more than The Holdovers this past year, I don’t remember it.  And I’m not the only one praising this story that on varying levels—but not heavy-handedly or without humor—involves issues of grief, loneliness, secrets, anxiety, depression, and alcoholism.  A sampling of critical reviews:

  • Johnny OleksinskiNew York Post :  “…the warmest cinematic experience you’ll have all year.”
  • Leonard Maltin: “…the year’s best movie to date.”
  • Jackson Weaver, CBC: “…best movie of the year.”
  • Peter Travers, ABC News: “…has all the makings of a new holiday classic.”
  • Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com: “…the closest thing we’ve had to a new holiday classic in quite some time.”
  • Brian Truit, USA Today: eighth of 20 “best Christmas movies ever.”

Currently at 96% approval from Rotten Tomatoes critics, the following is the site’s description:

From acclaimed director Alexander Payne, THE HOLDOVERS follows a curmudgeonly instructor (Paul Giamatti) at a New England prep school who is forced to remain on campus during Christmas break to babysit the handful of students with nowhere to go. Eventually he forms an unlikely bond with one of them — a damaged, brainy troublemaker (newcomer Dominic Sessa) — and with the school’s head cook, who has just lost a son in Vietnam (Da’Vine Joy Randolph).

Here’s a preview:

THE THREE MAIN CHARACTERS

Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com: “There is something so relatable, so deeply human about their pain and their circumstances — there’s a startling honesty in the kaleidoscope of emotions they all are experiencing at any given time.”

Oliver Jones, Observer: “None of these characters ask for sympathy, but command it nonetheless.”

Tomris Laffly, The Wrap: “…three broken misfits lifting each other up.”

THE STORY

Brian Tallerico, rogerebert.com:

Hollywood has a long history of stories of ‘makeshift families that learn something,’ but then why does ‘The Holdovers’ feel so fresh? It’s probably because it’s been so long since one of these stories felt this true. Payne and his team recognize the clichés of this life lesson, but they embed them with truths that will always be timeless. Everyone has that unexpected friendship or even mentorship with someone who forever altered their direction in life. And everyone has that young person who has shocked them out of their stasis, either through revealing what they have become or failed to be. ‘The Holdovers’ is a consistently smart, funny movie about people who are easy to root for and like the ones we know. Its greatest accomplishment is not how easy it is to see yourself in Paul, Angus, or Mary. It’s that you will in all three.

Nick Schager, The Daily Beast: “…a story about the lies we tell ourselves (for good and ill) and the reality of our not-so-dissimilar human conditions. Moreover, both looking forward and behind, it’s a film that grasps that everything has been done before and that absolutely nothing is set in stone, and that what bolsters and binds us most of all is compassion for ourselves, each other, and the histories we can never truly escape and are always free to leave behind.”

Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter: “Both teacher and student discover secrets about the other that prove traumatic and therapeutic at the same time.”

CONCLUSIONS

Oliver Jones, Observer: “When it’s over, the chill it leaves in your spine is destined to last nearly as long as the smile on your face.”

Max Weiss, Baltimore Magazine: “Wry, funny (with some zingers that will stay with you long after the film is over), and closely observed, The Holdovers is my kind of Christmas film.”

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times: “…gets us there with honesty rather than sweetness.”

1 visit(s) today

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *