by ECI Released : 2023-10-27
The Holdovers is a return to form for Alexander Payne after a disappointing outing with 2017s Downsizing. The Holdovers stars frequent collaborator Paul Giamatti, Da’vine Joy Randolph and newcomer Dominic Sessa. It is set in 1970 at Barton Academy a fictional New England Prep school, Giamatti plays Paul Hunham a curmudgeonly ancient History teacher who is disliked by students and faculty alike. When Hunham is tasked with watching the kids left at the school over winter break he forms an unlikely bond with Angus (Dominic Sessa) and connects with the schools head cook Mary Lamb (Randolph) who just lost her son (a Barton alum himself) in the vietnam war a year prior.
The film is heartwarming, hilarious and features brilliant direction from Payne and performances from the entire cast. Few criticisms and unsurprisingly one of the best films of the year. I’d compare it to films like Scent of a Woman and Dead Poet Society taking place at a prestigious prep school and like Dead Poet Society following a teacher who is an alumni at the school. However Giamatti's character is the opposite of Williams in that film, instead of being a beloved teacher who bucks the status quo with his unconventional teaching methods, he is actually criticized by his superiors for being too by the book and upholdent of his mentor's (the school's founders) traditions. It is only through his shared experiences with the film's other central character Angus that he begins to come into his own as an effective teacher and have hope for the future. Any fans of the above mentioned films or just a good and fresh comedy/drama should go see this film at a drive-in near you.