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Release Date: 11/10/23 [Cinemas]
Genre: Comedy. Drama.

Studio: Focus Features.

"A cranky history teacher at a remote prep school is forced to remain on campus over the holidays with a troubled student who has no place to go." 


The Holdovers is a story embedded in its humanity, modeled after a 60s/70s classic. A wonderful drama with a hint of comedy, exploring an expanse assortment of emotion during an unorthodox holiday season. 


The story revolves around a group of young men who have been left at their private school for the holidays. Put in charge of these students is the incredibly strict professor Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti) and grieving cook Mary Lamb (Da’Vine Joy Randolph). Circumstances come about for these students, as one rich parent decides to take everyone left behind skiing, that is with parental consent. Unfortunately for our lead Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa) his parents are out of reach and he is left over the holiday alone with a faculty cook and his uncompromising professor. 


As winter break goes on and the three warm up to each others’ company - the film opens its heart fully and engulfs the audience in its satisfyingly charming yet solemn story. Writer David Hemingson has been creating / writing television since the 1990s but The Holdovers is his first attempt at a feature film and what a phenomenal way to begin. Where Payne is able to imitate the resemblance of a 1970s style of filmmaking, it’s in Hemingson’s brilliant writing that captures the era perfectly and resembles a classic screenplay stolen through a time machine heist. 


The cast, which condenses down to the core three, is a wonderful assortment of actors that have a truly deep and personal connection to one another as the story plays out. Paul Giamatti delivers possibly his best performance of his career, Randolph showcases her true dramatic talents here and really allows the audience to relate to her tragedy, while Dominic Sassa delivers a terrific introductory performance for his upcoming career. 


It’s slow moving with its meditation in storytelling, but there’s a sensational sense of comfort to it as we witness the unlikely companionship built between student and mentor. The Holdovers is a delight that is just as heartbreaking as it is joyous, Alexander Payne delivers a nuanced character driven piece. Amongst an impressive filmography, with only a singular demerit. The Holdovers stands firmly near the top.

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