The Holiday
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Nancy Meyers
with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach, Rufus Sewell, Shannyn Sossamon, Edward Burns, Miffy Englefield, Emma Pritchard, Bill Macy, Shelley Berman
release US/UK 8.Dec.06
06/US Universal 2h15

Bold and beautiful: Diaz and Law (above), Winslet and Black (below)

sewell sossamon burns

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The Holiday Like Something's Gotta Give, this film exists in that fantasy Nancy Meyers universe in which a bunch of attractive, wealthy people talk cutely and smartly to each other and find love in all the right places when they least expect it. It's thoroughly engaging, even though we don't believe a word of it.

Iris (Winslet) is a London newspaper writer who can somehow afford to live in a picture-perfect Surrey countryside cottage. She's trying to get over her lingering attraction for her ex (Sewell), so she registers on a home-exchange website. Enter Amanda (Diaz), a movie marketer in Los Angeles with a gigantic Beverly Hills mansion that for some reason doesn't have a guest room--her ex (Burns) must sleep on the couch. After swapping homes, they both discover surprising things about themselves. Amanda falls for Iris' brother (Law), while Iris befriends a veteran screenwriter (Wallach) and a goofy composer (Black).

Everything about this film is a fantasy, from the snowy English countryside to the cars the characters drive down eerily immaculate streets. The plot is so carefully constructed that there's no real life in it at all. Even drunkenness is sweetly charming and old age can be conquered with a few gentle exercises. That said, the film still manages to get under our skin, mainly due to the strong performances.

Winslet is especially good in the film's early section, before she's directed to overdo her smiley enthusiasm in sunny L.A. While Diaz manages to deepen her role as she goes along, adding subtle touches that lift Amanda above the stereotype of a demanding workaholic. Their love interests are, of course, adorably delightful--Law effectively turns on the charm as Mr Perfect, while Black restrains his gonzo silliness just enough to be respectable.

The movie industry in-jokes are gimmicky and enjoyable, from a wacky star sighting in a video shop to Amanda's Trailer Voice-over Man narration. We can see the ending coming about 5,500 miles away. And it doesn't really matter. If we can forget the world outside and snuggle down in Meyers World, this is a perfectly enjoyable confection. But if we engage our brains for a second, we're in trouble.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 24.Nov.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Holiday sid, dubai: 2/5 "This should go straight to video. Black and Winslet salvage this film whilst Law and Diaz appear completely one dimensional. A waste of good talent. The film also paints an almost 1950s version of english surburbia which would appeal to american audiences. Great film if your 15 female and have 2 hours spare. Otherwise avoid." (8 Dec.06)
2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall