Although it may not feel like the most ambitious movie of this awards season, Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers has managed to win over basically everyone who’s seen it since it first premiered. Now, as January gets underway, the movie has made its way from movie theaters all the way to Peacock, where anyone with a subscription can now watch and enjoy it.
The movie, which is set in the 1970s, follows a trio of people who stay on the campus of a private school over the winter break. That simple premise allows for remarkable amounts of depth, though, so here are three reasons you should definitely check the movie out:
The Holdovers is anchored almost entirely on three central performances. Paul Giamatti is as great as he’s ever been playing a curmudgeonly professor who seems to hate his students, Dominic Sessa is the find of the year as the one student who gets left behind on campus, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph may be the best of the three as the supervisor of the kitchen staff who decides to stay on campus as she grieves the recent loss of her son in Vietnam. These actors all bounce off of one another beautifully, and the movie wouldn’t work nearly as well without any one of them.
Thanks to its simple premise, period setting, and some deliberate choices in the cinematography and grain of the image, The Holdovers is almost designed to feel like a movie that might have been released 50 years ago. It’s solely focused on its principle characters, and it relies almost completely on a wonderful script and three great central performances.
Payne is never too flashy, but the movie winds up feeling deep and profound in the way the best movies from the 1970s often did. It’s just a movie about people trying to help one another, and it’s deeply moving precisely because that’s all it’s really trying to do.
There are plenty of genuinely great movies that, for one reason or another, are fairly tough to sit through. They might be really long, formally inventive, or tackle difficult subject matter. Fortunately for anyone looking to watch The Holdovers, though, this movie feels like almost the opposite.
It’s a movie about a difficult teacher who grows to genuinely appreciate one of his students, and about the relationship they both form with a grieving woman. It’s often a deeply funny movie, but also knows exactly when to move things into a deeper emotional register. It may not be a sweeping epic or a stunning piece of worldbuilding, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a movie that’s easier to get swallowed up in.
The Holdovers is now streaming on Peacock.
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