Movie Review: The Holiday (2006)

I’ve been in a weird mood when it comes to movies lately. So much so that I was convinced the holiday season would pass me by before I would be able to sit through the entirety of one Christmas film. But that all changed after I watched The Holiday.

The Holiday is a 2006 holiday-themed romantic comedy following Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Iris (Kate Winslet), two thirty-somethings that have been scorned by love and are looking for a chance to get away from their respective hometowns for the Christmas season. So when Los Angles-based Amanda stumbles upon a listing of Iris’s quiet English cottage, the two decide to swap homes for two weeks. And of course, romantic antics ensue.

This movie was everything that I wanted it to be, and more. I absolutely loved the set up of two protagonists essentially switching lives just to escape their love-gone-wrong lives. Amanda’s boyfriend cheated on her with his secretary, and Iris is facing a detrimental case of unrequited love that blows up in her face when the man she loves announces his engagement. Both Amanda and Iris had a relatability about them that had me rooting for their happiness from the very start.

I also enjoyed just how appropriate each of their storylines were. When Iris arrives in L.A., she’s attempting to get over a heartbreak, so I liked that the main crux of her story wasn’t yet another romance. Instead, we see her form a friendship with her elderly neighbor, and watch as she motivates him to make a change for himself–while he pushes her to do the same. There is a small romance hinted towards the end of the film for her with another character, but since it was initially based on friendship, it just felt right.

All of the really swoon-worthy moments came from Amanda’s storyline. She meets Iris’s brother, Graham (Jude Law), on her first night at the cottage, and they immediately hit it off. I really loved learning more about Graham, and how he and Amanda had such a whirlwind romance in such a short amount of time. There’s one montage scene of them playing in a garden after their first real date, and I couldn’t help but smile and swoon as I watched. Graham’s character could have easily been written off as the brother with player tendencies, but without giving too much away, let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised by the guy he turned out to be. It was like something out of my favorite novel.

The movie also paid great attention to the small details. Amanda owns a company that produces movie trailers, and her ex-boyfriend composed film scores. So throughout the film we see a few instances of self-awareness that she’s in a movie (e.g. responding to the classic narrator voice as he recites her inner qualms), and all of the scores are a little campy and fun. This really put a smile on my face and even had me laughing out loud.

While I didn’t love the small regression that Iris faced in the third act, or the way that Amanda and Graham’s long-term relationship plans were left unexplained, I do understand their placement in the film, and thankfully, neither gripe really tainted my enjoyment.

Overall, The Holiday was an extremely sweet and entertaining Christmas movie. I’m already looking forward to watching it again next year–if I can wait that long.

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