JCHS's Finest News Source

The Caldron

The Caldron

The Caldron

The Holdovers Review


Photo courtesy of Billboard.


“The Holdovers” is a recent comedy-drama film directed by Alexander Payne, known for his previous films “Election,” “Sideways,” and “Nebraska.”  It is set in 1970 and revolves around a curmudgeonly Classics teacher, Paul Hunham, played by Paul Giamatti, at a fictional New England boarding school, Barton Academy, who must chaperone students who are ‘holding over’ at the school during winter break. Holding over is Angus Tully, played by Dominic Sessa in his cinematic debut, as well as four other students who are allowed to go on a ski trip after one of the boy’s fathers gives in to his begging. Tully, who cannot reach his mother, as she is on her honeymoon with her new husband, is forced to hold over for the entire length of winter break. Joining Hunham and Tully is the school’s Head Cook, Mary Lamb, played by Da’vine Joy Randolph, whose son died a year prior in the Vietnam War. 


I saw this film in theaters in late November. I was impressed by the look of the film and the cinematography, especially as someone who loved the films of the 1970s. Payne nailed the look of the early 70s: everything from the set decoration to the costumes, to the camera the film was shot on felt period appropriate. The attention to detail brings both realness and warmth to the film, making it feel like an authentic, human story.


Photo courtesy of IMDB.


This was the second collaboration between Payne and Giamatti, the first being 2004’s “Sideways.” As per usual, Giamatti gives an excellent performance as Paul Hunham, bringing an already complex and well-written character to life. Da’vine Joy Randolph is a delight as Mary Lamb, playing a funny yet grieving mother, adding to the emotional intricacy of the film. Dominic Sessa, who before this film had only acted in school plays, is superb as Angus Tully. Sessa, who hails from Ocean City, New Jersey, plays the character with such skill that would only be expected from a more experienced actor. He is most definitely a young actor to look out for in the coming years.


This film tells a darkly comedic, yet ultimately heartwarming story that I predict will warrant repeat watches from my family each year around the holidays. I was happy to see a film like this be so successful in this modern age; it gives me more hope for cinema in the years to come. I most definitely recommend “The Holdovers” to anyone looking for a recent film, with heart, that has a meaningful story to tell. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Caldron

Your donation will support the student journalists of James Caldwell High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Caldron

Comments (0)

All The Caldron Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *