Being a big fan of Paul Giamatti I had heard about The Holdovers wowing people at one of the film festivals over the summer. The Holdovers is being regarded as director Alexander Payne’s revival after his last few movies (I actually liked Downsizing) did not exactly win over critics.
How to Download The Holdovers
The Holdovers was released on October 27, 2023. You can download or stream the film from a digital platform. Click on the Download button at the end of this review.
The Movie Review
What we have here is a drama with a lot of heart, so much heart it borders on being a comedy/drama hybrid. The setting of The Holdovers is a boarding school called Barton Academy during the Christmas break of 1970. I feel like the people making the movie did a fantastic job of really making you think that the movie is taking place in the early 70s and it is kind of fresh to see something set in the early 70s instead of the 80s these days!
Paul Giamatti plays the role of Paul Hunham. Paul is a professor at the boarding school and he is not exactly Mr. popular with the students or the rest of the staff. He is grouchy and is just very hard to like and he has a hard time letting people in and getting to know those around him better.
Exploring the Characters and Plot
During this Christmas break, Paul is tasked with looking after “the holdovers”; these are the students who are not able to go home for the Holidays. He is not the only staff member there, Mary Lamb is also on-site to help, but she is having some major personal difficulties as she has lost her son during the Vietnam War.
There are a handful of students left at the school. One of the students that is left is Angus Tully, his mother has left to go on a last-minute honeymoon! Things get worse for poor Angus as the rest of the students get to go on a once-in-a-lifetime ski trip with one of the other student’s parents, but as the school cannot get hold of Angus’s parents, he is not able to go so he is left at the school with Paul!
Even though it is Christmas break, Paul is still trying to get Angus to stick to a regime, and the two of them butt heads. As you would expect and it is predictable as hell, Paul and Angus start to warm up to each other and begin to have a little bit of fun as they get to know each other better.
The Emotional Impact of “The Holdovers”
While you know that is going to happen pretty much from the moment Paul and Angus are left together. I think that Paul Giamatti and young Dominic Sessa have a very believable chemistry together. Some of the stuff we find out about Angus and his father is heartbreaking and we also get to discover why Paul is the way that he is too.
What I think The Holdovers does really well is manage to tug at the heartstrings, but also make you feel good at the same time. I am pretty sure I will pick this up on Blu-Ray next year and it will work its way into my Christmas movie rotation. It has so many movies in it now, I think some may have to start being every other year Christmas movies! If you have the chance to see this in the theatre, I highly recommend that you take the time to do so.
Release Timing and Distribution Concerns
That brings me to a bit of an issue I have with this movie. The Holdovers is 100 percent a Christmas movie so why the heck are some parts of the world not getting this until January??? It makes no sense even though I said go and see it in the theatre. To be honest with you, if you cannot see it in the theatre before Christmas, you may as well wait until next year and watch it on Blu-Ray/DVD during the holiday season.
- I liked the early 70s setting
- The relationship between Angus and Paul feels very real
- The movie manages to make you care a great deal about the characters
- There are some very funny moments as well as heartbreaking ones
- This being released in some parts of the world in January is just so dumb!
- I really did not like Angus’s mother!