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A recommendation: The Holdovers

“You just earned yourself a detention!” “Being with you is already one big detention!” Another 2023 favorite is now playing in theaters - The Holdovers, the latest feature from acclaimed filmmaker Alexander Payne (director of Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, The Descendants, Nebraska). It’s such a warm embrace of a film despite being set during a snowy New England winter. As with many of his other films, Payne pulls off the delicate balance of comedy and emotion, which he is amazingly good at. It's a somber film with so much sadness in the story, but also so much hope and humor and good cheer and genuinely heartwarming moments of connection. The three lead performances are exceptional, as every other critic has been raving about already, and each one brings something unique to the film. The Holdovers is a film about three disconnected people who spend a few weeks together in New England during the cold holidays at the end of December. They discover the more emotional other sides to each other spending this time together, as they slowly open up and appreciate how almost everyone is stuck some place they don’t want to be. This is one film to go watch in the theater this fal, and I highly recommend it as one of the best films of the year - with an exceptionally groovy soundtrack, too.

Set in the early 1970s, Payne’s The Holdovers follows Paul Hunham (starring Paul Giamatti), a disliked teacher at the private school Barton Academy, who is assigned the unexciting responsibility of supervising the few students who are unable to return home for the Christmas holidays. During this cold and snowy time, Hunham is forced to deal with one particularly rebellious but troubled student, Angus (played by Dominic Sessa), along with the school’s cook Mary Lamb (played by Da'Vine Joy Randolph), grieving the loss of her son who was killed in Vietnam. It’s a heartfelt, emotionally resonant film about finding connection and the different ways everyone copes with loneliness and sadness in their lives. It’s also a wonderfully uplifting and cozy (in a good way) film that takes us back in time on this journey with these three as they try to make the best of a freezing cold winter break. It’s topped off with a great soundtrack of groovy songs and score by Mark Orton. This one is absolutely worth going out to see, and it’s already playing in select theaters now. Expanding into a full release for viewing nationwide on November 10th (Opens in a new window). Alexander Payne continues to deliver some of the finest films that are smart and caring and invigorating, lead by some of the most memorable performances in any film this year.

For more info on The Holdovers and theater listings, visit the film’s official site (Opens in a new window).

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