We’re talking about The Holdovers in other threads, but one of the best movies of 2023 deserves it’s own thread!
To kick it off—
I had heard a few weeks ago on a podcast that they were refusing to say how they gave Paul Giamatti his lazy eye. It made everyone speculate that it was done digitally. I spent most of the movie looking at it and convincing myself it was CGI’d.
But apparently on Howard Stern Giamatti revealed that it was an opaque contact lens put in his eye. He couldn’t see through it, so he was acting while blind in one eye throughout the filming, including the driving sequences.
I watched it this weekend. I really enjoyed it, but I think the ending does a disservice to the rest of the film. It’s not a bad ending, but after some reflection, I think I dislike it because when you’re done watching the film, instead of thinking of all the wonderful moments in the movie, you instead start thinking about the ending. If the rest of the movie wasn’t great, that wouldn’t upset me, but in this case, I actually want to remember the rest of the movie, not just the ending! So that’s why I think a non-ending, a fizzle of an ending would have been a better fit for this particular movie.
That’s certainly an interesting take, and I don’t necessarily disagree, but isn’t Paul Giamatti’s character’s decision to sacrifice his job for Tully the necessary arc for his character? He’s learned something and he acts accordingly. I think that change is fundamental to Holdovers, even if it does give the finale a neat and tidy ending that might not feel realistic or earned.
But I think I get what you’re saying. In the end, despite being set during a period of extreme turmoil and uncertainty, it drops the characters off at very tidy resolutions, with plenty of redemption to go around. This movie might be set in the 70s, but it’s definitely NOT a 70s movie, is it? That’s partly why I was fascinated with it. It tapped into the youthful optimism/obliviousness of its young characters despite the fact that death was hovering over their heads and turmoil and chaos were waiting for them in the wider world.
I get @Rock8man . Looking for something slice-of-life like the ending to Dazed and Confused that doesn’t recontextualize everything you just watched or overwhelm your memories of the rest of the movie.
Yeah, to me, the entire film was about Paul Hunham connecting with Angus Tully, through an unlucky break and coming to a massive realization about his own life. Through that close connection he himself starts to understand that while teaching these young boys about the world, how harsh it can be, and that there are no easy answers, he is too stuck in a sort of arrested development. He got kicked out of school for roughhousing, he is a borderline alcoholic, acts afraid of girls, lies to former colleagues about his job, he understands that he hasn’t lived up to the potential he expects of all of his students. He is holding on to a job that was gifted to him, (Quite literally, his life has been a holdover to this point) at the very place he never really grew up out of, how could he think himself wiser than any of the kids he taught?
Him sacrificing his job for Angus was necessary for his character to grow, I think it was pivotal to his character arc. While he was doing it for Angus, because he didn’t deserve to go through what he went through when he was expelled, he was doing it for himself too. When it was happening, it felt really sad and unfair, but in the end when he was pulling away with that Uhaul trailer, after that final conversation with Angus, it really clicked for me, that he was finally able to free himself and grow.
On reflection, one of the most astounding things about this film, to me, is that (while assholes - well the stepdad, at least), you also can empathize with the mother and her need to find a safe home for the father so that she can move forward with her life. Having finally done so, and finally able to take a honeymoon, she was yanked back into holdover land by her son visiting the dad.
I didn’t even think about that, I guess you are not expected to empathize with the parents that left their kid at school over Christmas, but that phone call with the mother explaining that she had never really gotten to have a real honeymoon or vacation really kind of hit home. Having to be a caregiver is a second job, and I am sure that is what she was going through with Angus’ father. It is one of those things when you look at from Angus’ point of view feels unforgivable, but when you look at it from the adult’s perspective it still may feel selfish, but more understandable.
Man, I love Alexander Payne films, and Paul Giamatti.