Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

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Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

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Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

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The Holdovers: Loneliness and Found Family

Larissa Lopez
“The Holdovers,” directed by Alexander Payne, is set during Christmas time but stands as a valid watch during any time of the year.

What happens if you put a rebellious and quick-witted student, an extremely strict and knowledgeable professor and a lunch lady who lost her husband and more recently her son, all together in a private school during winter break? One of the most heartwarming movies of 2023 shows that even people we would never except to be close with can end up being the people we truly connect with even if it is for a short time, especially when we are truly understood and accepted for who we are.

Alexander Payne, the director of “The Holdovers” has been able to deliver an incredibly simple history where not many events happen in such a human way. Each main character we see has their own problems, as everyone does in their lives, and shows us that even the people we can see as heartless or plain annoying are like this for a reason, and that everyone has their own tragedies.

Paul Giamatti personified this awkward, weird and strict professor, in a different direction than I was expecting. The character, also named Paul, reminds me of professors I had throughout my life but what’s most shocking is how the character can be extremely silly and playful. The movie sprinkles scenes more and more throughout it where he lets himself go and discovers the importance of letting him connect with others.

The movie nails this 70s vibe, reminding me of other movies such as Dead Poets Society, which if you are a fan of, “The Holdovers” is for you, as it touches similar topics and is set in similar places, such as loneliness in students, and it all being set in a catholic private school.

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As well as being an exceptional story on relations and allowing ourselves to be open to others, the movie works as an amazing comedy. The bickering between our two main characters works as both actors immerse in their characters and allow them to be as silly as they are allowed to, even with a persecution scene where the professor is running after the student trying to catch him, which is a highlight of the movie for me.

Another highlight of the movie is the other side of the coin which is not as showed in trailers or reviews, with it being Mary Lamb or the lunch lady. Her character adds so much more to the emotional side of the movie, with her dealing with the recent loss of her son and how grief can appear at the most random moments in life. Da’Vine Joy Randolph does such a subtle but at times explosive reaction to grief and the loss of a loved one, and I believe it to be incredibly touching.

An aspect I love as well from this movie, is that families are not always perfect but that does not mean that our family is who we are. Our main character, Angus Tully had his mom and stepfather leave him at this school and never picked up the calls from the professor, as well as Tully’s real dad being in a tough situation where he could not see him. One of my favorite conversations between Tully and Paul happens as Tully fears being like his dad, and Paul tells him and the audience that we are never going to be our parents, and we are always our own person, which I find it to be an incredible dialogue from Giamatti.

Finally, this movie is also set during Christmas, and even though I watched it in January, I believe it to be a new classic for me. It reminded me of the true feeling of Christmas with the theme being that physical things do not matter, but the people you are with and how much you cherish them are most important.

“The Holdovers” is available for streaming on Peacock, and I would recommend it to anyone reading.

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About the Contributor
Larissa Lopez
Larissa Lopez, Photographer
Larissa Lopez (she/her/hers) is currently a photographer at The Winonan.
Larissa is an international student from Santa Cruz, Bolivia and is a second-year student at Winona State University in the major of Finance. She loves experimenting with the different activities offered on campus, and visiting as many places as possible. She hopes as a photographer, to be able to experience more events and portray them.
Larissa’s hobbies include watching films of any genre, making traditional and digital art, listening to music and biking around Winona.

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