'The Holdovers' Is A Warm And Cozy Feature That Will Bring A Lot Of Nostalgia To Audiences.
By Sal LoCicero | November 4, 2023
Alexander Payne is back, after five years, and has presented us with a warm and cozy feature that is destined to become a classic. ‘The Holdovers’ is a coming of age comedy-drama, set in 1970, about a teenage boy who is stuck in school during the holiday break since he has nowhere to go, he ends up with his teacher (the most hated teacher at the school) who he can’t quite get along with, but as it gets further into winter break, they start to understand each other a little more which allow them to grow respect for one another.
‘The Holdovers’ is the type of feature that Hollywood doesn’t give to audiences anymore, a throwback coming of age film set in the 70s that offers an equal dose of comedy and drama taking place during the holidays and feels highly nostalgic (given how technically accurate the filmmakers depict that era). From the very first scene, the director shows how you are in for a very (rare) special treat.
The story is excellent, of course it takes inspiration from other 1970s classics, but that is the point. The characters are flawed humans that have been misjudged by many due to how they act towards others. Dominic Sessa gives a fantastic on-screen debut and is deserving of a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Sessa portrays Angus (the teenage boy) exactly the way his character is supposed to appear, he is a great kid on the inside but is a troublemaker on the outside. Da’Vine Joy Randolph could possibly receive an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Her character is mourning the loss of her late son, but is trying to cope with it as best as she can during the holidays. When Angus and Paul (the teacher) drive each other crazy, Mary (Randolph) is usually the one who helps the two build a better relationship.
Paul Giamatti is great as Paul Hunham; the most hated teacher at Barton Academy. He is absolutely a reminder of teachers that we’ve all had in the past who made going to school even more difficult than it already was. But as the film nears the third act, Hunham becomes a more likable character.
Payne’s directing is what makes this so good, everything that is captured on screen feels like a memory that we have all had, especially when we look back at our childhood and remember what the holidays were like and the joy of celebrating those times with family.
As mentioned before, there is an equal amount of comedy and drama. When the comedy hits, it is very funny. The energy is on point with the comedic tone and it will only add more laughter. The dramatic elements stay during the majority of this picture, but it is necessary so that the story can be told. The drama lands and it feels most appropriate with the themes that are being conveyed.
On a technical level, this stands out on its own compared to any movie that has been released this year. It is guaranteed that when you see this movie in theaters, you won’t feel that you’re in a cinema rather than sitting next to your grandparents in their house watching a comforting movie.
‘The Holdovers’ is hands down one of the best movies of the year and (possibly) of all time, it delivers a unique experience for audiences, one that many will appreciate very much.
What are your thoughts?