Let me begin this post by wishing you all a Happy New Year! I wish and hope this new year brings you all lots of hope and happiness.
And now, I would like to talk about my favorite Christmas movie having just come out the holiday season. There are many holiday movies that are beloved — there are the fun classics like the “Home Alone” and “The Santa Clause” films; then there are timeless classics like “Miracle on 34th Street” which immerse the viewers in the joy and spirit of Christmas season. Of course, one cannot forget the Christmas romance movies like the “Christmas Prince” and “Princess” films, as well as “The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”, not to mention the almost saccharine Hallmark movies. I can watch many these movies quite often. “The Holiday” sets itself apart from the many Christmas romance movies as it pulls at my heartstrings every single time I watch it and its something I just love going back to again and again.
The story follows the love life of two women who are the polar opposites of each other: Amanda Woods, played by Cameron Diaz, is an independent, unsentimental, go-getter who doesn’t take nonsense from anyone — especially not from a cheating boyfriend; and Iris (Kate Winslet), whose monologue about the different kinds of love segues the viewer into the story. Iris is a romantic, sweet, sensitive soul and just doesn’t seem to get herself out of the feelings she has for her cheating ex-boyfriend — she actually still maintains a friendly relationship with him, while he continues to use her for his job. She has no sense of self-worth and lets herself be treated badly. She eventually reaches an impasse during their company’s Christmas party, when she discovers that the ex-boyfriend is now engaged to his current girlfriend, leaving her devastated.
At this juncture of great personal turmoil, both Iris and Amanda happen to come across each other in a house-swapping website and agree to swap with each other for the holiday hoping for a respite from their woes. Amanda goes off to the snowy suburbs of England, while Iris reaches the sunny, breezy, and glamorous Hollywood.
At L.A., Iris forms a special friendship with an aged, former legendary Hollywood screenwriter, Arthur (Eli Wallach) and befriends one of Amanda’s colleagues, Miles (Jack Black). Miles has a girlfriend but he doesn’t know that she is cheating on him. Both Miles and Iris bond together over their tendency of getting themselves into toxic relationships.
Meanwhile in England, Amanda comes across Iris’s brother, Graham (Jude Law), a widower and father of two girls, and their mutual attraction quickly pulls them into a frenzied relationship. It progresses gradually and they start to feel fall in love. However, Amanda doesn’t feel she loves Graham enough to give up her career in Hollywood and move to England.
What makes this movie special to me is, in an otherwise average love story, Arthur helps Iris find her self-respect and realize her true worth. He asks her to watch certain classic Hollywood movies, which feature heroines who have ‘gumption’; movies showing women of substance and grit. He encourages her to be the heroine of her own story rather than be the secondary ‘best friend’. This dialogue in the movie, struck a chord with me, particularly in that stage of my life when I was still figuring out who I was and what I wanted out of life.
The journey of both couples was depicted in a lovely manner and makes the romantic in me sigh during every viewing. Of course, there is the question of what Amanda will do after the film, for which there is no clear answer shown. But that small discrepancy is something I can overlook, because of the warmth and positivity the movie radiates in every frame. There are some things that we tend to love regardless of its faults; this movie is one of those guilty pleasures for me.