The Holiday

“Iris, in the movies, we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason, you’re behaving like the best friend.”

Arthur Abbott

The Holiday lulled me into a false sense of security with its subjectively shot opening that perfectly captures the self-inflicted pain of unrequited love (albeit leaning on an explanatory voiceover rather than trusting the audience). From there, it falls into the predictable rhythms of Anglo-American romantic drama, with a weak script elevated by a good cast. Amanda and Graham’s relationship is the most compelling as it is given sufficient time to blossom, though it is difficult to empathise with Cameron Diaz’s Amanda after she physically assaults her ex during their breakup and never seems at all heartbroken. Kate Winslet’s disarmingly vulnerable performance as Iris is the film’s strongest, but with her time divided between the colleague she is escaping and an elderly retired screenwriter she befriends in LA, we never spend long enough to become invested in her relationship with Miles, despite the film running long at well over two hours. In truth, The Holiday is no more (or less) a Christmas movie than Die Hard, simply being set at that time of year. As a breakup movie, I can certainly see its appeal, showing its leads ultimately move on with minimal effort, simply by virtue of physical distance and encounters with pleasant strangers.