Nearly 20 years after SIDEWAYS, director Alexander Payne and actor Paul Giamatti reunite in this worthy addition to your seasonal film rotation. THE HOLDOVERS follows a curmudgeonly instructor (Paul Giamatti) at a New England prep school who is forced to remain on campus during Christmas break to babysit the handful of students with nowhere to go. Eventually he forms an unlikely bond with one of them — a damaged, brainy troublemaker (newcomer Dominic Sessa) — and with the school’s head cook, who has just lost a son in Vietnam (Da’Vine Joy Randolph).
“Giamatti gives a career-high performance as the risible teacher who delights in doling out punishment, while newcomer Sessa makes an immediate name for himself, revealing layers of complexity to his character’s rebellious nature. With THE HOLDOVERS, director Alexander Payne makes a delicate point about how a first impression never tells the whole truth and shows that the pains and tragedies that feel specific to us actually make us a lot more alike than unalike.” —Jane Schoettle, Toronto International Film Festival “Funny and rueful, THE HOLDOVERS seems beamed in from another time in cinema history, when wordy and thoughtful little movies like this were in healthier supply. (Indeed, Payne has said that this is his attempt at a ’70s film.)” —Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair “Not enough movies are made like this anymore, and THE HOLDOVERS is proof that we need more thoughtful, studied, loving, and irresistible human stories on screen. It certainly helps, however, when Alexander Payne is at the helm.” —Barry Levitt, Slash Film “A consistently smart, funny movie about people who are easy to root for and like the ones we know. Its greatest accomplishment is not how easy it is to see yourself in Paul, Angus, or Mary. It’s that you will in all three.” —Brian Tallerico, rogerebert.com