The Holdovers (including: How'd they make his eye do that??)

This dropped on Prime for free viewing and I jumped on it and wow, glad I did. What a quietly beautiful film. Giamatti was always a fave of mine and I’m going to be so happy to have him win an Oscar for this.

For me, what hit home was the loneliness and loss that pervaded everyone’s lives, whether they admitted to it or not. The comedy was there, perhaps, to keep it from being too heavy on the viewer; it worked better, I think, than if this was a straight drama/redemption story.

Going back to what @Rock8man was feeling about the ending, I almost expected the film to fade to black when Paul came out of the office, pointed to his eye and said it was that one and Angus gave that slight smile. Yeah, that would have felt just right for this type of movie. But I didn’t mind that wrap-up and seeing Paul drive off into the proverbial sunset.

Hey, me too! In fact, I’ve seen the movie a couple of times now, and other than stealing his insipid boss’s beloved brandy (?) and drinking it out of the bottle as he drives away, I can’t remember anything that happened after that moment. Did he have some parting words with Davine Joy Randolph’s character? Was some final wisdom imparted to Tully after he declined the invite to skip class and get a burger? I don’t recall, but I don’t think any of it was important. Telling Angus which eye to look into was all I needed to know about how far they had come.

My friend Bruce Geryk says that all American movies end ten minutes too late. This is exactly the sort of thing he’s talking about.

I don’t think so. The main thing we learned in that scene is that the kid wasn’t kicked out of school.

I don’t mind the pacing of those closing scenes and I think you need Paul saying goodbye to both of those characters. Mary gives him a blank journal to record his upcoming adventures. We learn that she’s saving up for her sister’s baby’s college fund and if it’s a boy his middle name will be Curtis. Later, Paul tells Tully, “Keep your head up, all right? You can do this.” I thought both of those scenes were quite touching. Then you get Paul’s brandy swish-and-spit and a snowy drive off down the road away from Barton Academy.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked the ending sequence, but was it really needed? We wouldn’t know the specifics, but there’s plenty that can be inferred even if you end a tad earlier at the office. The connections with Mary and Tully are solid for Paul, Paul’s story arc released him into the world, and we already feel that Mary and Tully are on different trajectories now that they’ve travelled through this stage of their own painful journeys.

Maybe a minor critique of a fabulous film. I would have loved it if they had done test screenings with the shorter viewing and had audiences say they wanted a neat wrap-up so they tacked on the rest to make it a package. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what happened.

I, for one, certainly hope that’s not what happened. I’d like to think Alexander Payne has earned enough capital with the studios who finance his movies that he doesn’t have to hew to what test audiences want.

And for the record, I’m on your team with this issue! But I’m also not the filmmaker, and I would hate to think that Payne is having to recut his movies based on test screenings. I completely accept Holdovers as the movie he intended to make, even with the caveat that it plays the audience out with a nice tidy American redemptive ending instead of something more characteristically European or arthouse (those links are two of my favorite recent-ish examples of mind-blowing endings that American audiences would hate, both arguably “arthouse” movies, the first Romanian, the second Polish).

I would doubt that focus features would do anything to interfere with Payne, even after Downsizing was a disappointment. (Not to me, I love that film). I can’t imagine the budget was huge on this one either.