I watched this on a plane home from the US. There is something about 40,000 feet that heightens the intensity of a movie, so I guess this review should be tempered accordingly.
Set in the early 1970's, The Holdovers is a story set in a New England boarding school. The Holdovers are the students who cannot travel home for Christmas. Guarded by a misanthropic history teacher and a recently bereaved school cook, the winter break is something of a torture for everyone involved.
The history teacher is played by Paul Giamatti. He is a flatulent and malodorant curmudgeon who torments his students. The school cook is played by the marvellous Da'Vine Joy Randolph, who has lost her son in Vietnam.
Over the course of the winter break, one pupil (Dominic Sessa) begins to form an unlikely bond with them both.
I enjoyed this a lot, the school and the setting remind me of a lot of 1980's National Lampoon movies, and the casting is just perfect. Giamatti and Randolph are superb as the babysitters, and Sessa is an excellent, awkward teenager.
The 1970's setting is great for the costumes, sets and cars... and a scene set in a local diner is terrific.
There is just the right amount of humour, but well balanced with a tender and sensitive story about loneliness and connection.
Four stars for me.