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The Holdovers   review by Bobby Blakey

Director Alexander Payne has some great films under his belt including Sideways, The Descendants, Nebraska, Downsizing, Election and About Schmidt. For his latest film, The Holdovers he is reteaming with his Sideways star Paul Giamatti along with Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Carrie Preston, Andrew Garman and newcomer Dominic Sessa. Could this film be yet another triumph in his filmography or will it be more detention than holiday?


The Holdovers follows a curmudgeonly instructor at a New England prep school who is forced to remain on campus during the holiday break to babysit a handful of students with nowhere to go. Eventually, he forms an unlikely bond with one of them, a damaged brainy troublemaker and with the school’s head cook, who has just lost a son in Vietnam. 


I am a huge fan of Giamatti so was mostly ready for this film strictly for him, but reteaming with Payne was obviously a plus. I thought the trailers looked decent enough, but did not expect to come out of it becoming one of my favorites of the year. The film is a initially a slow burn and does takes its sweet time to tell this story and it is all the better for it.


Giamatti is always great, but he brought everything to this role and made it something special. IT could have just been a single layered grumpy professor, but the nuances and depth he brings to the excellent writing of the character elevated it to so much more. I love every moment he is on screen here. He is captivating, heartbreaking and pure perfection from beginning to end. From the moment we first see him to the final scene of the film he is a joy to watch while

bringing fresh growth to the character throughout.


The supporting cast are great as well with Randolph knocking it out of the park as well. She brings both strength and pain to the role as she deals with loss and the holidays. She has her own issues to deal with yet still manages to be the motherly figure and voice of reason that both of these men need during their whirlwind time together. This is easily one of, if not her best performance to date and really brings the needed depth and love to this story.


Sessa probably has the hardest task, stepping onto the stage with these two power house performances and holding his own. I was initially and sometimes throughout just annoyed with him, but quickly realized it was the character and how he portrayed it that made me feel that way. You just want to smack this kid numerous times and his performance pulls you into those emotions both feeling sorry for him and annoyed by him all at once. It is supposed to give you some sort of feelings about how he is and in turn plays up well off of the complete opposite persona of Giamatti’s character.


In the end this film is not just full of brilliant performances, but a journey into these characters need for each other and a chance to move on from the path they have been forced into for so long. When the credits came at the end I sat trying to figure out how I really felt about the film and truly left pleased. I loved this film and every laugh, frustration and tear it pulls from you. This is one of those that deserves award recognition across the board, but at the least just needs to be seen by everyone.


In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including deleted scenes, alternate ending, interviews and more. Check out The Holdovers available now on digital and then on Blu-ray and DVD on January 2nd from Universal Home Entertainment.

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