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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'The Holdovers': A Wistful Depiction of the Power of Human Connectivity and Personal Transformation


Movie poster for The Holdovers

The Holdovers (2023) is a wistful and engaging comedy-drama starring Paul Giamatti as Paul Hunham, a classics professor at an all-boys private school in Massachusetts circa 1970. A strict authoritarian with his students at Barton Academy, Hunham is generally reviled throughout the school community due to his harsh standards and stern attitude toward nearly everyone he encounters.


Tasked with supervising the "holdover" students remaining on campus through the December holidays, Hunham relishes the opportunity to oversee a quintet of misfits — rebellious senior Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa) chief among them. Head cook Mary Lamb (Da'Vine Joy Randolph), grieving the loss of her son in Vietnam, remains on campus as well — joining Hunham and Tully to form an unlikely trio bound by newfound camaraderie.


Directed by Alexander Payne (Sideways, Nebraska), The Holdovers balances wry humor with poignant drama, weaving a tapestry of emotional complexity. The three central characters are thrown together by circumstance yet their shared story becomes one of discovery — each inspired by the others' character and empathy. Through the power of shared experience they deliver a character-driven narrative that celebrates the transformative power of unexpected bonds.


 

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