The Holdovers – Movie Review

The Holdovers is a heartwarming tale of unlikely bonds and redemption.

Directed by the acclaimed Alexander Payne, “The Holdovers” is a film that takes time to unfold, gradually weaving a heartwarming narrative that captures the essence of human connection. While the film may start slowly, it eventually blossoms into a charming story that showcases exceptional performances from its cast. This film is the second collaboration between director Alexander Payne and actor Paul Giamatti after previously working on 2004’s Sideways.

The story centers around a curmudgeonly instructor, played by the talented Paul Giamatti, who finds himself stuck at a New England prep school during Christmas break. He is tasked with looking after a handful of students with nowhere else to go. At first, the characters seem distant, and it’s easy not to care much about their plights. However, as the film progresses, it begins to hit its stride.

The second half of “The Holdovers” is where the film truly shines.

During this portion, the characters’ personalities and stories unfold. It begins to draw the audience into their lives and struggles. The standout performances in the film come from all three stars. Paul Giamatti brings depth and authenticity to his curmudgeonly character and goes all in with his performance. Dominic Sessa impresses as the damaged yet intelligent troublemaker. Lastly, Da’Vine Joy Randolph delivers a powerful performance as the school’s head cook. She is coping with the loss of her son in Vietnam and puts on an award-worthy performance. All three infuse their roles with raw emotion and genuine chemistry. They truly made the relationships between their characters all the more compelling.

As the characters connect and confront their pasts, “The Holdovers” becomes a story of redemption, friendship, and the healing power of human connection. It’s a film that reminds us of the importance of looking beyond first impressions and allowing people to reveal their true selves. However, despite its heartwarming narrative and stellar performances, “The Holdovers” does have one significant drawback – its length. With a 2-hour and 16-minute runtime, the film occasionally dips and meanders, testing the audience’s patience. Yet, for those willing to invest the time, the reward is a beautifully shot, emotionally resonant tale of unlikely bonds.


I give “The Holdovers” 3.5 out of 5 stars. It may not be a rapid-fire, action-packed film, but it’s a charming and emotionally rich story. With outstanding performances and a narrative celebrating the transformative power of human connection, it is a movie worth an uplifting experience for those who appreciate character-driven storytelling.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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Sean Tajipour is the Founder and Editor of Nerdtropolis and the host of the Moviegoers Society Podcast. He is also a member of the Critics Choice Association. You can follow on Twitter and Instagram @Seantaj.

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