Christmas break is typically a time of celebration for the students and faculty of New England prep school Barton Academy, where the mostly affluent students can’t wait to exchange their blazers and ties for skis or swimsuits. Yet cantankerous history professor Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti) is far from joyous when he is cajoled into chaperoning the motley students who remain on campus. Among them is intelligent and restless Angus (Dominic Sessa), fuming with anger over his mother’s winter break abandonment. Angus’s resentment is no match for the deep-seated sadness that hangs over cafeteria manager Mary Lamb (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) as she observes the first Christmas without her late son. As the three amble about the empty halls of Barton and embark on extracurricular excursions, their frigid and isolated existence begins to thaw. Giamatti’s talent for comedic pathos has never been better, but the film truly glows with Randolph’s phenomenal performance and newcomer Sessa’s angst-ridden journey. Once again, Alexander Payne, with screenwriter David Hemingson, has crafted a timeless story of unique individuals navigating the unpredictable ups and downs of life. THE HOLDOVERS radiates warmth and nostalgia befitting its 1970s setting, featuring exquisite cinematic stylings that hark back to mature, emotional dramedies from the likes of Hal Ashby, in which every line could prove uproarious or heartrending.
CAST: Paul Giamatti, Dominic Sessa, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Carrie Preston
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