Review: The Holdovers

Official synopsis:
 A cranky history teacher (Paul Giamatti) at a remote prep school is forced to remain on campus over the holidays with a troubled student (Dominic Sessa) who has no place to go.

Alexander Payne is a filmmaker that I enjoy even if I don't always love his films. The one that spoke to me the most was The Descendants, but The Holdovers might just take that crown. 

Without diving too deep into my personal life, the month of November has been full of stress and disappointment. I'm still struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but The Holdovers was the perfect escape I needed. A group of sad people coming together on Christmas and finding some unexpected happiness? This really came to me at the right time.

Paul Giamatti has been stuck playing asshole managers for what feels like forever but here he's very complex. It might be my favorite performance ever from him. Mr. Hunham is a grouch, but he's clearly capable of getting past that. Angus might be troubled, but he too has much kindness buried underneath. My favorite performance came from Da'Vine Joy Randolph as Mary, the kitchen manager spending her first Christmas without her son who died in Vietnam. 

The film starts out quite funny and the more dramatic moments are saved for the back half. I can see this being a movie I revisit every Christmas. I just felt warm at the end of it. And it helps that it ends with quite possibly one of the funniest insults I've ever heard.

Grade: A


  1. I do want to see this even though Payne's last film wasn't great but I still love his work. This I do want to see as it looks more complex and something closer to past films like Nebraska and The Descendants as the latter was a film my parents liked a lot.

    1. It's so much better than Downsizing. I'd say it's better than Nebraska too and easily right up there with The Descendants. I might even like this one slightly more.


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