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Winthrop High School's Premier News Site Since 2019

The Viking Times

Winthrop High School's Premier News Site Since 2019

The Viking Times

“The Holdovers” – A Movie Review

Courtesy of: NY Post
“The Holdovers” From left to right: Dominic Sessa, Paul Giamatti, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph

On November 3rd, Focus Features released an independent film (also known as an indie) called “The Holdovers.”

Starring Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Dominic Sessa, the movie follows the story of Angus Tully (Sessa) as he is “held over” at his boarding school for Christmas vacation while his mom and her new husband decide to go on a late honeymoon.  So who is stuck watching Angus?  None other than cranky Mr. Paul Hunham (Giamatti), a teacher with an odor issue and a wonky eye. He is hated throughout the school, labeled as a harsh ancient civilization teacher who just so happens to be a Barton Boy himself, graduating from the boarding school decades before. Along with the duo is Mary Lamb (Randolph), the head cook of the school’s cafeteria.  She stays at the school to cook for the holdovers, as well as to stay close to where she was last with her son who has just been killed in the Vietnam War.  The unlikely trio tries their best to cheer up their dreary Christmas, forming an unlikely bond in the process.

The movie takes place in a Massachusetts boarding school in the 1970s.  It captures the Boston area in the winter season, which is what director Alexander Payne (director of “Sideways,” also starring Giamatti) wanted.  “The Holdovers” was filmed in January and February of 2022, New England’s peak wintertime.  The production team went around to five schools in Massachusetts to film the fictional school of Barton Academy.  Locations included Groton School, Northfield Mount Hermon School, St. Mark’s School, Fairhaven High School, and Deerfield Academy, where Dominic Sessa just graduated.

Paul Giamatti in “The Holdovers” (Courtesy of: Vanity Fair)

“The Holdovers” exceeded my expectations.  Paul Giamatti make you fall in love with his vinegary character as he attempts to thaw his cold heart.  His impeccable comedic timing will have moviegoers giggling throughout the movie. Da’Vine Joy Randolph moves audiences with her performance of a grieving mom; viewers will find themselves sympathetic as she experiences her first holiday season without her son. Dominic Sessa, in his first onscreen appearance, embraces the role of Agnus Tully like a seasoned actor. In the end, Agnus and Mr. Hunham realize that they are not as bad as they thought each other to be.

Mary, Mr. Hunham, and Angus end up developing a friendship that is bound to last outside the walls of Barton Academy. The unusual Christmas movie will leaving you feeling good, like every Christmas movie should.

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