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Movie Review: "The Holiday" by Nancy Meyers

I love watching classic cinema and giving recommendations on what to watch.

Poster for "The Holiday" (2006), written, produced, and directed by Nancy Meyers.

Poster for "The Holiday" (2006), written, produced, and directed by Nancy Meyers.

The Holiday Review

As with most of the movies I enjoyed a couple of years ago, my motivation to watch this one was learning English. The Holiday was actually the first movie I have ever watched in the English language.

I was preparing to sit for an exam with other two classmates, but none of us were really confident when it came to speaking the language. The teacher, as a way to encourage us, decided to stop using the diagrams in the textbook for a bit and showed us movie scenes instead. Then we had to discuss what we had seen and speculated about the lives of the characters. One of these scenes was actually the beginning of The Holiday. Kate Winslet's monologue during the first minutes left me intrigued, so I watched the whole movie that same night. It was a good decision.

The Holiday is a story centered on two women.

Iris Simpkins (Winslet) is a columnist for The Daily Telegraph in London who is in love with her coworker and former boyfriend, Jasper Bloom. Even though they have broken up because of Jasper’s infidelities, he still keeps being around Iris, pretending to be her friend, so he can ask favors and writing advice from her. During her last day of work before the holidays, Iris learns that Jasper is engaged to another woman.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz), a business executive from Los Angeles, discovers that her boyfriend Ethan is cheating on her with his young secretary. Ethan puts the blame on Amanda for being a workaholic and unable to feel moved by anything and is kicked out of the house by her.

Both women, eager to take a break from their disastrous love lives, decide to go out on vacation alone. Amanda ends up in a home-exchange site where Iris has listed her cottage in Surrey, and they agree to switch homes for two weeks.

Their respective holidays bring more than one surprise; Iris befriends Arthur, an elderly man who had been a scriptwriter during the Golden Age of Hollywood, and Miles (Jack Black), a composer with whom she becomes quite close. Amanda, on the other hand, begins a passionate relationship with Graham (Jude Law), Iris’s old brother. But as the holiday comes close to an end, our protagonists must face their doubts and insecurities to make decisions for when they go back home.


Why Should You Watch It?

This movie is the one I watch when I am sad, and it never fails to cheer me up. It might be that most of the time when I am upset, I tend to fantasize about buying a plane ticket and disappearing for a few weeks. And I have lost count of how many times I have wished to be far from home on New Year’s Eve!

Despite the mixed reviews it received, I find The Holiday to be one of the most honest movies I have ever watched. It is not only a story of unrequited love and broken relationships, but one on how to find your self-worth again, no matter how hurt you have been.

We are introduced to two different kinds of women, who both have not been able to find success in their love life. In Iris, we see a very trusting and loving person, two characteristics that have made her prone to be taken advantage of in her past relationship. She is quite transparent when it comes to her feelings. Amanda is the exact opposite. It is practically impossible for her to be emotionally open and she does not think she has any quality that makes her recommendable as a romantic partner.

The whole experience of the holiday and the people they find along the way make them realize that they might have been underestimating themselves. That maybe they deserve more than what they have been conforming with.

Even though Graham and Amanda are given a little more space in the movie, Iris and Miles’ relationship is the one I found more endearing. But I like the fact that both couples have their own issues. Amanda and Graham believe that no one will ever fully accept them for the kind of life they live; her being a career-centered person, and he being a single dad. All of this made it difficult for them to connect or get really attached to other people. Iris and Miles, on the other hand, naturally tend to be warm and affectionate, but they never seem to find anyone who can see and value their personalities.

Winslet should definitely do more comedy. She is wonderful at it! I was so used to seeing her doing drama that at first it surprised me that she could be so amusing. The movie itself has very funny moments. The phone call scene might be my favorite but there are many others that make me laugh as if I have never watched them before every single time.

When I watch a film, I am not only on the search for fun but for something capable of moving me and teaching me. The Holiday managed to do that for me. I recommend it.

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