Friday, November 2, 2007

Film Crit: The Holiday

Last night, as kidlet snuggled into bed and fought sleep, I curled up with our portable DVD player and watched The Holiday (2006).

A tale of two women who sabotage their own happiness until they reach the point of "No more! I need out!" Each feels she needs to get away from it all, away from "him." Amanda, in L.A., surfs the net for vacation spots, no destination in mind other than somewhere where English is the main language. She stumbles upon the tiny cottage belonging to Iris, in Surrey, England. They agree to exchange houses for two weeks, over Christmas. During the course of their holiday, each discovers not just someone to love, but how to love. Magical Santa Ana winds sweep Iris out of her doldrums. Iris' brother charms the pants off Amanda.

Plot twists that could easily have been overdone were not; the acting was all top-notch. I cannot imagine a better actress to play Amanda than Cameron Diaz. She does Hollywood powerhouse rich-CEO well and can still boogey in her jimmies to indie-pop and believably bonk her drunken head on a low beam, without it looking corny or forced. Jude Law is delicious in the role of Iris' brother. As Iris herself, Kate Winslet bumbles through the comedy bits the way her character bumbles through her love life. Iris endears herself to us by refusing, finally, to be a victim anymore. She takes control through the examples of strong women of Hollywood past. With her on this journey is Jack Black, who said in an interview, "I get to come to work and stare at Kate Winslet all day," implying his job was the easiest on set. Ms. Winslet remarked that she found it difficult to keep a straight face when working with Jack. He's just too funny.

Look for a fun cameo by Dustin Hoffman.