Thursday, February 01, 2007

THE HOLIDAY: Fun, but a bit long drawn

THE HOLIDAY (romantic comedy)
Cast: Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black and Eli Wallach
Director: Nancy Meyers
Time: 135 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)
Jude Law and Cameron Diaz
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? From the writer-director who gave us “What Women Wants” and “Something's Gotta Give” comes another rom-com about women who are really trying to get away from themselves. Sure, Nancy Meyers really knows what women want and she gives it to us in her own way – all wrapped up in sweet but complicated Yuletide decor. The only trouble is that “The Holiday” -- shot in a 135-minute footage -- takes ages to 'unwrap' and by the time it is done, it is already New Year's Eve!

WHAT’S IT ABOUT? Meyer's plot is about two women swapping homes across the Atlantic for the Christmas holidays just so that they can get away from their failed romances. British journalist Iris (Kate Winslet) is suffering from a case of unrequited love for a colleague (Rufus Sewell) who doesn't even have the courtesy to tell her that he is getting engaged to the girl in the circulation department. Movie trailer producer Amanda (Cameron Diaz), on the other hand, loses her mind -- and soul -- after finding out that her beau (Ed Burns) has cheated on her.
A few clicks on an Internet website later, Amanda and Iris have swap homes so that they can be 'miserably alone' for the Christmas holidays. At Amanda's palatial mansion in Los Angeles, Iris makes friends with 90-year-old scriptwriter Arthur (Eli Wallach in a touching role) and starts a romance with music composer Miles (Jack Black). At Iris's cottage in Surrey, Amanda runs into Iris's drunk brother Graham (Jude Law) and wastes no time jumping into bed with him (foreplay, she says, is 'over-rated').

HIGHLIGHTS & LOWLIGHTS: So here we are: two love stories for the price of one! Meyers takes her own sweet time developing and expanding each of them while we were asking “Isn't it Christmas yet?” during each sequence. Well, don't get me wrong. Most of the romantic encounters and comedic devices are rather delightful and even funny. There is a nice element of surprise when Amanda visits Graham's home unannounced and finds his 'Sophie' and 'Olivia'; and the mental flashes of her life story as corny movie trailers are fun to watch.
Over in L.A., Black provides his usual blend of comic relief, humming soundtracks of famous movies (like those of “Jaws” and The Graduate”) while a veteran actor (guess who!) looks on in dismay. However, unlike the Diaz-Law pairing, Black seems miscast as Iris' love interest. Why, there seems to be more screen chemistry between Winslet and Wallach than with Black. Still, we must credit Meyers for some 'laugh-out-loud' moments like that three-way conversation in which Iris inadvertently ranted at the wrong person.

THE LOWDOWN: Comedies, like good documentaries, should be short and sweet, and Meyers could have easily done away with some superfluous scenes. Apparently, she must have been carried away by the situations and characters she has managed to flesh out so well. Women and dating couples should have a enjoyable time with this “Holiday”.


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