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THE HOLDOVERS

Director: ALEXANDER PAYNE

133 mins, USA, 2023, Digital

With The Holdovers, Alexander Payne gifts us another of his trademark bittersweet comedy dramas, the type of finely wrought low-key gem that has become all too rare in American cinema. The year is 1971; Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti), Professor of Ancient Civilisations at an elite boarding school, has been saddled with the ignominious task of playing caretaker to a bunch of students that are unable to return home over the Christmas holidays. A cantankerous, ornery eccentric, Hunham resolves that the students suffer along with him, forcing them to study the next year’s curriculum ahead of time. Angus (Dominic Sessa), a bright but belligerent 15-year-old, becomes his chief antagonist as the other boys find an escape route; Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), the school’s recently bereaved cook, casts a baleful eye from the sidelines over Paul’s escalating battle of wills with the belligerent teen.

Notes by David O’Mahony

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