The Holdovers: Movie Review

The Holdovers Movie Review: Beyond Nostalgia

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"The Holdovers" poses an initial question — why recreate the 1970s with such meticulous detail, down to the opening titles? This cinematic journey, however, soon answers that query by seamlessly merging outstanding and awe-inspiring technical cinematography with a simple yet heartwarming narrative. The result is a nostalgic, moving, and ultimately memorable experience that in actually transcends its era-specific aesthetics.

Set in December 1970 at Barton Academy in New England, the film follows the last day of school before the holidays. Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti), an unliked and strict professor, reluctantly becomes the supervisor for this year's "holdovers" — students with no place to go during the break. What unfolds is an unlikely bond between him and one of his students (Dominic Sessa), and the school’s grieving head cook, (Da'Vine Joy Randolph), who has recently lost her son to the Vietnam War.

From cinematography to soundtrack, "The Holdovers" successfully transports viewers to the 1970s, making it easy to forget that it was actually crafted in 2023. The commitment to authenticity is commendable, but if you asked us, the film could have maintained its impact even without such period-specific visual elements. This sentiment arises because the narrative, coupled with exceptional performances, particularly by Paul Giamatti and newcomer Dominic Sessa, stands as the true highlights of the film. Giamatti's portrayal, for us, is his best, and Sessa's performance as a relative unknown proves to be a revelation. While the storyline may follow a somewhat predictable trajectory, its simplicity and directness make it both accessible and relatable. Going into the film, we didn't anticipate forming a deep connection with the characters, but by the end, we were left profoundly affected by the fates of each character. "The Holdovers" turned out to be a delightful surprise, showcasing that, beyond its technical achievements, the film's emotional resonance and the talent of its cast deserve the highest praise.

Rating: 4 and a half reels

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