‘The Holdovers’ Review: A Slow Start That Leads to a Wonderful Story

The Holdovers

As the 2024 Oscars draw near, many character-focused drama films have begun to see the light of day. While some of these movies edge too close to melodrama, many of them deliver unforgettable stories filled with a lot of heart. Directed by Alexander Payne, The Holdovers is a film with a slow start that leads to a wonderful story. Led by some captivating performances, this is a narrative with a deep emotional core.

An old teacher finds himself stuck taking care of a handful of students over Christmas break. The picture features Paul Giamatti, Dominic Sessa and Da’Vine Joy Randolph.

Before we discuss its many positives, we must begin by addressing the film’s biggest flaw, its first act. The Holdovers tells a deliberately paced story, focusing on real people in believable situations. It’s not a movie with action and spectacle. Even so, the initial portion of this film is so excessively unrushed that many viewers will struggle to reach the exceptional second and third acts. The starting scenes go on for too long, with little obvious benefit for the leisured pace. Thankfully, once the movie kicks into gear, we are provided with an excellent story.

Paul Giamatti and Dominic Sessa are incredibly impressive in their roles. Portraying flawed individuals masking pain and regret, these actors are supported with a solid platform due to the film’s intricate script (written by David Hemingson). In fact, the movie’s middle and end sections are so well-constructed that you will likely forget how sluggish the opening was.

On a technical level, the picture is well-shot and the score is effective. The script and performances of The Holdovers are indeed its biggest strength, but that doesn’t mean that the team behind other areas of the film haven’t done an admirable job as well.

Alexander Payne has assembled a movie worthy of many awards. With 2024 nominations arriving soon, there is little doubt that this fantastic piece of cinema will be honoured in a variety of categories.