Monday, May 20, 2024

Movie Monday: The Holdovers

There are a few Best Picture Oscar nominees that I've had my eye on, waiting for them to be available on the streaming services we have, and this weekend, I noticed that The Holdovers was available on Amazon Prime. It was just as good as I'd heard, funny and warm.

Paul Hunham, played by Paul Giamatti, is a grumpy, strict ancient civilizations teacher at a private boys' boarding school in 1970 Massachusetts. This Christmas, he's drawn the short straw and is assigned to remain at the school with the "holdovers," those students who must stay on campus for the holiday break. He had no plans to go anywhere anyway; he rarely leaves campus. Initially, five boys are left in his care, three teens and two younger boys, but eventually, there's just one boy left with nowhere to go for the holidays. Angus Tully, played by Dominic Sessa, is an older teen boy who'd been bragging to his classmates that he was traveling to St. Kitt's for the holiday. At the last minute, his mother calls and says it would be best if it were just her and her new husband on this trip, and Angus is left in the empty school with Mr. Hunham. The two actually have some things in common, as Angus is also prickly and unpopular with his peers, though Mr. Hunham thinks Angus is just another spoiled rich kid. Rounding out the sparse holiday crew at school is Mary, played by Da'Vine Joy Randolph, who cooks at the school and is deeply grieving the loss of her son, a past student who died in the Vietnam War. They're a glum, depressing trio, feeding off each other's misery, until they begin to get to know each other better. Secrets are revealed, their broken, frozen hearts begin to thaw, and their holiday turns around. 

We really enjoyed this movie. It's wonderfully written, and the central actors are all outstanding in their roles. It's very funny in spite of some serious topics, like loss and grief, underlying the plot. Surprising twists that we didn't expect keep the narrative moving. And this movie has so much heart! The emotions feel very real and authentic. It's really a beautiful story of people opening up and finding connections they sorely needed. We both enjoyed it very much. 

The Holdovers is currently available on Amazon Prime or for a fee on several other services.

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