Monday, 26 November 2012
Film Review | The Holiday (2006)
The Holiday is based around the concept of two unlucky-in-love ladies, Iris (Kate Winslet) and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) who swap homes to give themselves a break from their usual surroundings in the lead up to Christmas. So, Iris vacations in Amanda's luxury Hollywood villa, whilst Amanda cozies up in Iris' tranquil cottage set in rural Surrey. However, it's not long before unexpected chances for romance turn up.
In many ways, The Holiday does nothing new. It's obvious from the moment Iris meets the unassuming Miles (Jack Black) and that Amanda finds Iris' brother Graham (Jude Law) on her doorstep in the middle of the night how things are going to end up romance-wise; it's just a matter of director Nancy Meyers playing things out. Things aren't much more original in terms of the culture shock both women experience - Iris unsurprisingly gets hopelessly befuddled with Amanda's keypad-protected security gate, and Amanda predictably drives on the wrong side of the road within a couple of hours of being in England. So far, so forgettable.
And yet The Holiday has a few pleasant surprises within it. First of all, the four leads all put in relatively strong performances. Yes, they're rom-com style performances, but nobody grates (although Diaz comes close once or twice). Jack Black in particular is pleasingly understated in a role, whilst not necessarily challenging, that certainly falls outside his comfort zone. There's also a refreshing subplot involving Eli Wallach as an aging Hollywood writer which allows the film to explore a little, and pay tribute to, the golden age of cinema. It's never anything incredibly deep or layered, but there's enough there to raise this a notch above the usual throwaway fare.
The Holiday isn't a classic, and it's modern fairytale, polished white middle class feel will almost certainly be enough to turn some away. It never threatens to be anything truly memorable, but it certainly does enough to make it lighthearted festive fare worth a watch just once a year.