Starring: Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law
Director: Nancy Meyers
Running Time: 136 mins
The Holiday is an American film about two women on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean who swap houses as they aim to get over respective heartbreaks during the Christmas season, but soon bump into an entirely new scenario as they hop the pond.
While it’s as cheesy and predictable as any Christmas rom-com you’ll ever see, The Holiday proves a surprisingly enjoyable watch thanks to an excellent A-list ensemble cast, pleasant and likable characters, and somewhat of a calm atmosphere in comparison to the worst romantic melodramas that Hollywood is often responsible for. It’s by no means a brilliant film, but The Holiday is, all in all, a rather nice watch, which is more than enough for a cosy Christmas classic.
Let’s start off with the film’s brightest point, the lead performances. While many films of the same ilk simply cram in as many A-listers as possible and attempt to use that as an excuse for good cinema (New Year’s Eve, Love Actually, Valentine’s Day etc), The Holiday does a good job at putting together a thoroughly likable lead quartet that has great charisma and chemistry right the way through.
So, while the film’s story may not offer up all that much intrigue, Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz are great to watch in the lead roles, offering something a little different to the more typical, whiney rom-com about getting over a breakup, and with their natural charisma, they work brilliantly as both enjoyable leads, as well as carry great charisma with Jude Law and Jack Black in their respective relationships.
What’s more is that, as well as the actors giving likable performances, one of the screenplay’s saving graces is how it writes those main characters. While there isn’t enough character development over the course of the film’s entire duration to prove thoroughly engrossing, the opening half-hour, where it’s all focused on the trials and tribulations of two women struggling with love in their lives, proves a very entertaining watch, and definitely does enough to endear you to the situation at hand for the rest of the movie.
Another plus comes in the form of the directing from Nancy Meyers. Again, while Meyers doesn’t go all out to make The Holiday a bold breath of fresh air in the festive romance genre, she does indeed give the film a pleasantly calming and assured atmosphere. Rather than ever get sucked into portraying the two women’s struggles as horrible, melodramatic hardships, she allows the film to sit back and relax in its story, instead paying more attention to giving the movie a polished and more visually appealing vibe, something that I was absolutely delighted by, and am surprised to see is achieved so rarely in this genre.
So, while it runs for an undoubtedly overlong 135 minutes, The Holiday has enough character, charisma, and style throughout to make it a surprisingly likable watch, and with intelligent lead characters backed up by excellent performances across the board, the film is far more than a generic ensemble of celebs pretending to fall in love with each other at Christmas.
Having said that, there’s no getting away from the fact that this film doesn’t have anything in the way of a genuinely interesting or original story. With the exception of its first act, where the Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz’s respective romantic struggles offer a pleasing parallel, there’s next to no development afterwards outside of everything that you already know is going to happen.
As a result, the movie effectively grounds to a half after a few minutes of its second act, when the main characters and relationships have been established, turning into a matter of waiting until the ever-predictable conclusion an hour or so later on. There are moments of good humour or sweet romance here and there, but it’s mostly devoid of any genuine development or originality, which proves frustrating given how long the film is, and how strongly it started off.
Overall, I have to say that I rather liked The Holiday. There’s no avoiding the fact that it’s far from an original and powerful film, but as far as its genre goes, it’s a genuinely likable, relaxing and pleasant watch throughout, and after all, that’s all that it really needs to be to prove a memorable holiday romance, which is why I’m giving it a 7.3.