The Holdovers – The DVDfever Cinema Review – Paul Giamatti

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The Holdovers feels rather like a 1970s version of The Breakfast Club, in part, since out of all the teachers at Barton Academy, its classics professor, Paul Hunham (Paul GiamattiLove And Mercy), draws the short straw to stay over Xmas, looking after the grounds, as well as any students unable to get away for the Christmas break (yes, this has been released in January in the UK. So what?).

These students – or holdovers – are Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa), his arch-nemesis Teddy Kountze (Brady Hepner), plus Alex Ollerman (Ian Dolley), Ye-Joon Park (Jim Kaplan) and Jason Smith (Michael Provost). Also staying the course is school cook Mary Lamb (Da’Vine Joy RandolphThe Guilty), who’s mourning the loss of her son, who gave his life in the Vietnam war. Still, as Paul tries to make some levity by suggesting that it’s good she’s with them, so she can cook, Mary is very much: “Hell, no”, and points them towards whatever’s in the fridge and freezer to get them through into the New Year.

Alas, for everyone, Paul Hunham is not a well-liked teacher: He takes delight in giving bad grades, he frequently quotes a lot of Latin phrases with which no-one else is familiar, he smells – and thinks Glade air freshener is a deodorant, and he even starts a new chapter in their text books, right before the Xmas break. Hence, it’s no wonder that the students are very distrusting of him.

Beyond that, it might sound trite to just state that they learn a lot about each other as the time goes on, from 1970 into 1971, although I wasn’t originally sure of the exact year in which this was set, since the film references 1969 a few times, until reaching New Year’s Eve. However, safe to say, that this is absolutely brilliant. And like how Dream Scenario was clearly a film written FOR Nicolas Cage to BE Nicolas Cage, The Holdovers is clearly written FOR Paul Giamatti to BE Paul Giamatti.

As such, do look out to try and answer the question as to whether Paul Giamatti’s character is a bit boss-eyed. When you’ll see it, you’ll notice it. However, no-one in the production is saying if it’s a prosthetic, off-centre contact lens or CGI. What do you make of it?

That said, he does have an… eye (ahem) for another teacher, who he bumps into along the way during the break, Lydia Crane (Carrie PrestonRuth And Alex). Will the course of true love run smooth? Or like an oil slick…

As an aside, I was so sure that I’d seen Sessa in something before, but nope, this is his first ever film, according to IMDB. He does look a bit like Ezra Miller, so if they were wanting to continue The Flash but with a change of lead, he could swap in. Then again, it’s unlikely – and sadly – that they’ll be making any more in the interim, given it was a box-office flop, even though I loved it.

The Holdovers is in cinemas now, and is available to pre-order on Blu-ray and DVD, ahead of its release date of April 22nd.

The Holdovers – Official Trailer – Focus Features

Detailed specs:

Running time: 133 minutes
Release date: January 19th 2024
Studio: Focus Features
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 (ARRIRAW (3.4K))
Cinema: Odeon Trafford Centre
Rating: 9/10

Director: Alexander Payne
Producers: Bill Block, David Hemingson, Mark Johnson
Screenplay: David Hemingson
Music: Mark Orton

Paul Hunham: Paul Giamatti
Angus Tully: Dominic Sessa
Mary Lamb: Da’Vine Joy Randolph
Miss Lydia Crane: Carrie Preston
Teddy Kountze: Brady Hepner
Alex Ollerman: Ian Dolley
Ye-Joon Park: Jim Kaplan
Jason Smith: Michael Provost
Dr. Hardy Woodrup: Andrew Garman
Danny: Naheem Garcia
Thomas Tully: Stephen Thorne
Judy Clotfelter: Gillian Vigman
Stanley Clotfelter: Tate Donovan
Elise: Darby Lily Lee-Stack
Mr. Endicott: Bill Mootos
Mr. Rosenswieg: Dustin Tucker