Sunday, March 18, 2007

"THE HOLIDAY"

Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach, Edward Burns, Rufus Sewell




I was still reeling from the Greek tragedy overload when I decided to rent a couple romantic comedies from the video store to watch this weekend. "The Holiday" refers to the Yuletide season so why the heck was I watching it in March? Oh hush! I wanted something light and breezy with a feel good tone to erase the memory of 300 Spartans being massacred by Persians. Well this film met my criteria except Cameron Diaz's acting style or should I say her non existent acting style totally ruined it for me.

The premise was cute enough. Two recently single (again) women agree to swap houses so they can both get away from the pain of their respective break ups. You know "the whole healing I need to move on" process. Iris (Kate Winslet), a British writer for a newspaper was unceremoniously dumped (well maybe not dumped but you get the idea if not watch the film to see what I mean) by the RUFUS SEWELL (yes I needed to capitalize his name because he ranks pretty high in my books) during the office Christmas party. While Amanda (Cameron Diaz), an American owner of a film advertising company dumps the EDWARD BURNS (oops there I go again, but hey he's awesome and I love him, so there!) after he cheated on her. So to make the long story short, Iris is transported to Santa Monica to spend the holidays in Amanda's ultra chic digs while Amanda makes her way to Surrey in England to heal her wounds in a snow covered cottage in the middle of nowhere. Iris starts socializing with her (well Amanda's) neighbors, the reclusive award winning film writer Arthur (Eli Wallach) and the ever so amicable film (music) composer, Miles (Jack Black). Amanda on the other meets Graham (Jude Law - who isn't capitalized because well he isn't that good nor bad either just an OK), Iris' older brother who stumbles on her door, one very cold night. The film switches between California and Surrey to show us how the women cope with their new surroundings and if they are making any progress vis a vis their 'moving on' process.

The scenery in both places is crisp but of really contrasting styles. I prefer Amanda's crib with the ultra modern architecture, the automated gate and that switch you press to draw the shades down to hide out any trace of sunshine. Plus all those DVDs of films she had in her library is my ultimate dream in life. To own a home theater system with all the films I've collected all stacked neatly in one huge cabinet for easy access. Pure bliss! Iris's place in Surrey is a cosy cottage with a chimney, a snow laden pathway leading to a little white picket fence. So very rustic, English countryside ambiance but nonetheless charming in a postcard-y way.

But even the cosy surroundings of the English countryside couldn't salvage my irritation with Amanda (Cameron Diaz's lack of personality) especially when she interacts with Jude Law. I couldn't get the part where Jude Law tells her she was the most interesting person he has met in his whole life? Duh? There was no chemistry between them, none that I could feel anyway and please she is not that interesting at all, OK? I figure if it was any other actress than Cameron Diaz like perhaps Sandra Bullock, then maybe just maybe it would have been more credible. If not for Jude Law's ever oh so charming presence in the scenes in Surrey I could have easily just fast forwarded the film to go to Iris and Miles in Santa Monica. Yes, really I couldn't take much of Cameron Diaz any longer.

The rapport between Kate Winslet and Jack Black though was visibly funny but not in the slapstick kind of humor. Kate Winslet has always had this whimsical facial expression which makes her a delight to watch. Her well enunciated British accent adds to the smooth delivery of her lines. When she opines in her narration, it is sincere and heartfelt and you can't help but nod in agreement:
"For some quite inexplicably, love fades; for others love is simply lost. But then of course love can also be found, even if just for the night. And then, there's another kind of love: the cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims. Its called unrequited love. Of that I am an expert. Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the rest of us? What about our stories, those of us who fall in love alone? We are the victims of the one sided affair. We are the cursed of the loved ones. We are the unloved ones, the walking wounded. The handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space! Yes, you are looking at one such individual."
I also like how Iris treated the reclusive film writer (Eli Wallach) with the amount of respect he deserves. It must be fascinating to have a conversation with someone who has been in the film industry since its birth. Just imagine all the fancy insights you can pick up from his experiences during an era where leading men the likes of Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart romanced leading ladies like Lauren Bacall and Katherine Hepburn. The age before Hollywood studios became greedy with box office profits and overpaid their stars with millions of dollars for a few lousy minutes on screen.

It is also refreshing to see Jack Black act his age without resorting to making funny faces or making a fool of himself. He has good comedic timing and this cutesy in a chubby sort of way look which can be endearing in itself. Although I have to say how convenient was it that Miles caught his actress girlfriend with some other dude? So that incident could pave the way for Iris and Miles to be together, it seemed a bit forced.

But overall, this film had its cutesy moments, light fun filled scenes and a very feel good tone. All the ingredients you can expect from a Nancy Meyers movie - the director who gave us "Something's Gotta Give" and "What Women Want".

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