I love holiday movies and I love chic flicks. Released in 2006, The Holiday by writer-director Nancy Meyers, still stirs up those very warm feelings of Christmas and unrequited love. What is it about the holidays that makes everything wrong in your life seem much, much worse?
Kate Winslet is Iris Simpkins, a wedding column writer and Acute Romantic Doormatitis sufferer, who carries a torch for her colleague Jasper Bloom (Rufus Sewell). Jasper is that man—so mysterious, leaves you hanging for years, and then breaks your heart into a million pieces so you can pick them all up again and get on with your life. And…repeat.
This vicious cycle however, is ending, as Jasper is engaged to someone else. And Iris’s heart can either die its thousandth death or maybe, take a vacation! Somewhere far so she can forget. Enter Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz). Amanda is in Los Angeles and makes movie trailers for a living. Her job is dreamy and her house is amazing, except her boyfriend (Edward Burns) is cheating on her.
Desperate for a change in scenery, Iris and Amanda both land on the same house-swapping website and impulsively decide to exchange houses for the holidays. Will Iris finally forget Jasper and learn to love somebody who actually appreciates her? She meets Amanda’s friend Miles (Jack Black), a film composer who does just that. Similarly, will Amanda finally get a fresh start and resolve her own issues in the quaint nowhere-ness of Iris’s cottage? She can’t cry, it’s not normal. Or will Iris’s insanely good looking brother Graham (Jude Law) make things even weirder?
My take: I said I love chick flicks, let me clarify that. I love chick flicks of the Nancy Meyers kind. This is the woman who gave us What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give, and It’s Complicated. Funny, romantic, and with a stellar cast, Holiday is a chick flick of the finest order. Watch it because it’s hilarious but also bittersweet. Because its got this magical score by Hans Zimmer (listen to track #7). Because Kate and Cameron are amazing here (aren’t they always?). Because you’ll get some decorating tips (mansion and cottage). And because Jude Law is so sexy in this movie, it will be perfectly OK to watch it for this reason alone, and I will happily relate. Favorite Scene: Graham walks into a crowded bar looking for something. Imogen Heap sings in the background. The look on his face when he finds what he’s looking for. Classic.
For the film geeks: Watch it because Eli Wallach, one of Hollywood’s most enduring actors, plays Arthur Abbot, Amanda’s neighbor who just happens to be a big deal screenwriter from Hollywood’s golden age. Or for Jack Black’s genius film score a capellas. Or to catch that hilarious cameo in the video store scene.
Watch it because it’s a movie that stirs up all those warm feelings of Christmas and unrequited love. If you’ve been there, you know that the experience of heartache is always kinder in hindsight. Some parts of that brutal time even make you laugh now. But, if like Iris, you haven’t let go of the Jasper in your life, Christmas is the worst time indeed. Or maybe, the perfect time. Thanks to this film, you won’t have to fly across the Atlantic to swap houses with a perfect stranger to realize it. Give yourself the best gift ever.