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The student news site of Blaine High School.

BHS Blueprint

The student news site of Blaine High School.

BHS Blueprint

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Jordyn Mosley
Jordyn Mosley
Staff Writer

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The Holdovers: A Film About Loneliness
“The Holdovers” poster from

The December of 1970, watching as the snow covers the ground, the air filled with the frost of winter, and the buzzing sound of students getting ready for Christmas break. All students and staff at Barton University boarding school get ready for their long awaited break where they get time to spend with friends, family, and their loved ones for a very merry Christmas. Except for 3 people. Professor Paul Hunman, hated by both students and staff, and content with having nowhere or no one to go to for Christmas. Angus Tully, top of his class, but forced to stay at Barton as his mother abruptly schedules a honeymoon with his new step-dad. And Mary Lamb, the cafeteria lady grieving the loss of her son Curtis, trying to stay at the one place where she shared memories with him for the last time. Stuck together for 2 weeks, all 3 grow begin to grow closer and gain an understanding of their differences and similarities.

“The Holdovers” directed by Alexander Payne and written by David Hemingson was released into theaters on October 27th, 2023. I first learned of this film when I got bored and searched for “movie trailers 2023” on YouTube as one normally does. The moment I watched the trailer in full, I knew that I needed to watch this film. To me the film just seemed to click with my mind and made my brain tell me that I will absolutely love this film. I loved the cinematography of the film, having this old timey 1970-80’s classic film aesthetic that made my brain chemicals feel pleased. The plot explained in the trailer felt strong and intriguing, and had my expectations for the film heightened and heightened. So of course naturally I held off from watching the movie until a couple days ago on Monday of December 10th. But when I finished the movie, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that not only had it met my expectations, but had exceeded them.


Paul Hunman from “The Holdovers” (2023) lighting his pipe in the theater scene


My favorite part of the film by far was the stylistic choice to shoot the film as if it were a true classic 70’s/80’s movie. The camera quality isn’t perfect and it allows itself to look old and outdated at times. But through this choice, the movie is able to have this very nostalgic feeling that brings you back to a different time. The cinematography and scene composition makes the film feel like an old painting put into motion, a memory replaying onto the screen. Every shot feels like it was composed with the intent to be as artistic and visually stylistic as possible. Almost every shot is long enough to give a more natural feeling to them, letting the actions and dialogue of the characters convey more than the camera. One of my favorite shots in the whole film is of the professor Paul Hunman, where while in a movie theater decides to smoke his pipe, the light revealing his face while enveloped in the darkness around him.

But ultimately what made me absolutely love this film, was how the story masterfully puts these 3 seemingly different and incompatible characters together, and bring them all closer to one another through a single common trait. Loneliness. All 3 of these characters although each unique in their own circumstances, share the same feeling of loneliness and sadness with their lives. Mary Lamb, the cafeteria woman, who for the first time ever must celebrate without her son. Doing everything that she can to ensure that he could live the best life that he possibly have, only to lose him before he could truly live his life. Now deciding to spend her Christmas in the last place where felt connected with her son. Angus Tully, the last student left behind during Christmas break, stuck all alone while his mother spends her time honeymooning with her new husband. Breaking her promise with her son to spend time with each other in favor of creating a new life and family for her own benefit, while her old family lays hidden and broken. And Paul Hunman, the most hated professor in the whole school, stuck spending his break watching over the same delinquents he so despises. Wrongfully accused of plagiarism for his work at Harvard and now stuck spending his life fully committed as a professor for a group of students that have enough money to not care.

But through this shared sense of loneliness, do these 3 characters form a deep and personal bond throughout the film. With no one else to talk to, they’re all forced to interact with one another whether it be intentional or not. And through these interactions each character is given the chance to learn more and more about each other that they would never learn in any other circumstance.

Paul and Angus learn more about who Mary’s son truly was and how much he meant to her life. Allowing herself to be seen vulnerable and emotional while she grieves the loss of her child. We learn more about Paul and how he was framed for plagiarism while at Harvard, leading him to naturally respond by hitting the accuser with a car. Losing all of his dreams and ambitions because someone with more money decided to steal from him. Showing off that he did not choose his job as a professor for Barton of his own free will, but was his only choice after facing such downfall. But it also shows that even though Paul has fallen to where he is, he still upholds his own morals to give the best learning and information he can. It shows us that he still has a love for what he teaches and is not willing to allow others to pass through school solely through their family connections.

And most importantly, we learn more about Angus and his family. Paul initially thinks that Angus is just another spoiled rich kid, always defying his orders and causing as much trouble as he can on purpose. But as they talked more and more frequently, they both started to open up to each other on a personal level. But the moment that truly changed their relationship, was when Angus attempted to run away and see his father. Throughout the film it was assumed that Angus’s father was dead, with his mother quickly moving on to someone else to help cope. But when they do go to visit Angus’s father, we learn that he isn’t actually dead, but instead stuck in a mental hospital. His mother didn’t leave as a response to grief, she left because she didn’t want to handle his father for any longer.

Through these shared experiences of grief and loneliness, do the bonds between each of these 3 characters strengthen and allow and sort of found family relationship that just warms my heart up. “The Holdovers” is one of the most genuine and sincere films that I’ve seen to date. It’s not an overdramatic piece of art, nor is it a sad or moody drama. It’s a film that knows what it wanted to be, and executed it phenomenally. It’s been a long time since a Christmas movie actually brought back a sense of holiday nostalgia, and that could transport me back into a time that I never even lived through. It’s a film that shows its characters not as heroes or idols, but just as genuine people just as normal as me and you, building binds with each other in a time of weakness and vulnerability. It’s one of my favorite films of the year, and definitely an underrated masterpiece of directing to come out this year. Hoping that Paul Giamatti and Da’Vine Joy win their awards at the Oscars.



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