Kelly Bertrand takes a look at The Holiday from another perspective and realises that this damn movie makes NO sense.
When The Holiday first came out in 2006, me, like everyone else in the world, fell in love with the cheesy, feel-good Christmas flick that inexplicably saw two strung-out, heartbroken women switches houses, countries and lives right on Christmas (because THAT happens everyday.)
But on a recent re-watch, I realised something – this movie might just be one of the worst ever made. Have I changed? Has society moved on and standards have gone up? Well, yes to all three, but still – I just don’t think this movie was any good from the outset, and here’s why:
Look, it’s no surprise that Cameron Diaz flails like a snapper on a boat deck, but it’s a truly (terrible) feat to make Kate Winslet look like she’s fresh out of drama school, rather than the legendary actress we know and love.
The over-acting (not helped by cheesy monologues, see below: horrific script) is woefully enthusiastic. Cameron Diaz’s attempts to portray heart palpitations is a low point, as is her attempts to cry (because bouncing up and down and yelling out ‘eee eee eee!’ always works).
But Kate, gorgeous, lovely, talented Kate, what happened to you? Why are you running around the fancy LA house like a five-year-old who’s gorged themselves on candy floss? Why are you playing air guitar while jumping on a bed!? (There does seem to be a lot of bouncing in The Holiday.)
And why, oh (usually) great Nancy Meyers, did you decide to pair Kate Winslet and JACK BLACK as a romantic couple when there’s not even an iota of chemistry between the two? I have more sexual chemistry with my letterbox than Kate and Jack do, I’m sorry to say – their idea of banter in this movie is removing eyelashes from each other’s cheeks and whispering ‘don’t blow away’ and I’m sorry, that’s just cringe, not hot.
I’ll start with the worst line in the history of cinema. “Foreplay is overrated”. ‘OVERRATED?!’ yelled women everywhere. For the record, for anyone who needs to hear it, it’s not. It’s just not.
Right, onto the other offending lines of this travesty of a movie.
“I’m looking for corny in my life” – Iris (you bloody found it, mate).
“You’re incredible! A prodigy! A doodle prodigy!” – Miles, to Iris who is for some reason trying to scat as Miles composes a song in his fancy at-home studio that’s totally believable.
“So now I’m just going to kiss you for the millionth time [girl you’ve known Jude Law for like a week, calm down] and say ‘be seeing you’.” – Amanda
“I’m Mr Napkin Head.” – Graham
And then there’s the logistics. You’re telling me that you thought it was believable for two successful women to be able to pick up their lives and leave their (WAY too clean and organised homes) and be in another country in less than 24 hours? At THIS time of the year? I don’t know about you but my house is covered in pine needles, random bits of sticky tape, flour and clothes that have been on the line for three weeks because who has the time to fold clothes in December?
I know that between Christmas and New Year time operates in much the same vein as it does in airports (meaning it’s fine to drink at 10am) but come on Nancy, get it together.
More problematically is the whole Amanda ‘I can’t cry’ narrative in The Holiday which makes out that it’s somehow a (female) personality flaw that she can’t, and that something’s wrong with her. Some people just don’t cry.
(I WILL make a point to include the one great line, in the interests of balance EVEN THOUGH it is actually quite cringe, but Iris’ epiphany about needing to “be the leading lady of my own life, for God’s sakes” is rather relatable, so it deserves resigned respect.)
ALL of the four main characters in The Holiday are so bloody unrelatable. Amanda? Uptight, cold and emotionally unavailable. Iris? A pathetic, weepy martyr. Miles? A literal nothing who is too obsessed with flutes. Graham? Whore.
None of them move away from the two-dimensional tropes until the absolute last minutes in the movie, and only then when fall in love because sure, that’s the only way individuals can have any personal growth.
Iris especially irks me in this movie (SORRY Kate). You’re telling me that because your rake of a boss (with whom you AREN’T in a relationship with but continues to breadcrumb you) gets engaged, you cry all the way home, make a cup of tea and then flirt/start with the idea of inhaling the gas from the stovetop before you fling the windows of your cosy Cotswolds cottage open, breathe deep and slap yourself in the face muttering ‘low point’. GET A GRIP.
Also, why are all of these people at the top of their creative fields – a movie trailer producer; a book editor; a newspaper wedding columnist (who inexplicably has her own office in the newsroom which I can confirm would NEVER happen) and a film soundtrack composer. Nancy, give us films about accountants and nurses and receptionists, for the love of God.
IT’S SO BLOODY LONG
For a movie where not a lot happens, did we need a whole two hours and 18 minutes? I think not, The Holiday.
A COMPLETE LACK OF CHRISTMAS
And finally, for a ‘Christmas’ movie, WHERE is the Christmas!? Save for a few Christmas trees tucked in the background, there is a lack of festiveness in this movie that I’m sorry, I just can’t accept.
Perhaps the Santa Anas blew it all away!?