A Winter's Holiday
When in "The Holiday" Iris declares "I like Corny" she could have easily been describing the movie down to a tee, with its huge amount of cliche scenes, even more cliche dialogue and a general sense of corniness running throughout, it has to be one of the cheesiest movies I've watched in a while. But here is the twist, despite being cornier that a can of Green Giants sweet corn and predominantly aimed at a female audience, there is something really enjoyable and endearing about "The Holiday" that even as a full blooded man I have to admit I enjoyed it.
Iris (Kate Winslet - Finding Neverland) and Amanda (Cameron Diaz - In Her Shoes) are poles apart, Iris lives in a quaint English village and works as a book editor, whilst Amanda lives in a luxury Hollywood pad and makes her living from creating explosive movie trailers. The one thing they have in common, they both have terrible luck when it comes to men. Desperate to escape the reality of recent romantic failures they meet online and agree to swap homes for a couple of weeks over Christmas. But will a change of address bring a change in their luck when it comes to romance.
I will admit that when "The Holiday" started and I heard the narration from one of the main characters, I started to think would this be too much of a "Love Actually" copy and in some ways it is cut from the same cloth with a similar tone and sense of humour. But then after a rather laborious thirty minutes things start to get moving as Iris and Amanda house swap and the main part of the story gets going. Of course by this point you can pretty much guess the romantic outcome but you do wonder how they are going to get there.
For the most "The Holiday" is a rather safe movie, playing it by numbers and delivering what you would expect from a movie which is a romantic-comedy and set during the Christmas period. You get the beautiful backdrops, a seasonal soundtrack and the pretty typical romantic storylines, although having the two run in tandem does make it a lot more interesting than many a recent movie. But it does throw up a few twists which honestly surprise you and that is where "The Holiday" really is superior to your normal Christmas rom-com. It cleverly leads you in one direction making you believe you know who is who and what is what, but then it twists the story with a touching scene, not in an outrageous, contrived manner but makes you sit up and take interest when your attention may be waning.
One element of "The Holiday", which revolves around Iris's friendship with an elderly Hollywood screen writer, did seem a little out of place but even so it added something different to the movie. I got a sense that writer/director Nancy Meyers was actually using the story of Arthur Abbott, wonderfully played by Eli Wallach, to preach her own beliefs about the way the movie business is going, with Arthur often making comparisons between modern movie making and those of the golden age which he obviously preferred. I have to say that although I thought it was out of place I actually agree with the comments made in the movie about how the movie industry appears to be more of a production line these days.
A lot of The Holiday's success is down to the great choice of actors as well as there diverse characters. Playing Iris is Kate Winslet who is always convincing at playing the put upon archetype English rose who is in love but her love is not requited. Her character at times is incredibly annoying, in the same way I found Bridget Jones to be incredibly annoying, but she does undergo a transformation through the movie which makes her character a lot less irritating. Whilst Iris's love is unrequited, Amanda, played by the utterly gorgeous Cameron Diaz, finds that she can't find true love. To be honest there isn't much depth to Amanda and "The Holiday" plays a lot on the likeability of Cameron Diaz rather anything else, which is aided by having her love interest, Graham, played by Jude Law.
I have to say the pairing of Jude Law and Cameron Diaz is a match made in heaven and they seem unbelievably in tune with each other through out the movie. Thankfully the character of Graham is quite a surprising one and is not what you would initially expect from someone like Jude Law and I have to say he steals the movie with a certain, beautiful scene. Whilst Law did brilliantly I found the casting of Jack Black as Miles a poor decision. I struggled with his performance and at times it felt like he was in a straight jacket just waiting to break out into some outrageous comedy. This gave it a very uneasy feeling and whilst I can see what they were trying to achieve by casting Black in a romantic role it failed to work here.
When it comes to the actors I have to say that whilst Jude Law delivers the best performance in "The Holiday" all the others are eclipsed by Eli Wallach, one of Hollywood's finest actors and although over 90 showed true class in his role as Arthur Abbott. Taking on the character of the elderly screen writer, Wallach is a joy to watch. His dry sarcasm about the way the movie business has gone is highly amusing yet also touching. Many a young actor could learn a lot from this great actor on how to become a character and be the part rather than just acting the part.
What this all boils down to is that "The Holiday" is one of those movies that grows on you the more times you watch it. You know it's going to be for the most a predictable storyline and full of every cliche going, but that really doesn't matter as it achieves its goal of giving you a warm fuzzy feeling. Although it seriously targets a predominantly female audience it doesn't completely alienate any men who watch it and even the coldest of hearts will find something endearing about it. If you enjoy movies in the same manner as "Love Actually" and "Bridget Jones's Diary" then no doubt you will find "The Holiday" an equally entertaining experience.
Tags: Christmas Movies