Acclaimed multi-Oscar winning director Alexander Payne travels back to the 1970s for his eighth film, in which three disparate characters find support in the most unlikely of places. Already nominated for numerous awards this season!
Barton men don’t lie. This is just one of the many rules Professor Hunham (Paul Giamatti) takes much too seriously as he hands out poor grades at an elite boarding school in 1971. As he dismisses the politics that come along with educating the children of people in high places, he’s punished by the headmaster who gives him a most undesirable assignment for the winter break: to stay at the school and supervise the students who are unable to go home.
Hunham resolves to have the students suffer with him, forcing them to start studying next semester’s curriculum ahead of time. Among them, 15-year-old Angus (Dominic Sessa), bright but belligerent, makes a ruckus. Teacher and student become foes, antagonizing one another and tiring themselves out, as Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), the school cafeteria manager, observes from the sidelines, herself alone after recently losing her son in the Vietnam War. As the petulant pair succumb to the depressing truth that they’ve got little else but each other this holiday season, Professor Hunham starts to soften up and they begin to see themselves in one another.
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 (Sideways, Nebraska) 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.
Alexander Payne will be talking to Neil following the film screening on evening of Tuesday 13th February via a pre-recorded interview. Please book tickets here for the Q&A screening
BAFTA AND OSCAR NOMINATIONS
BAFTA: 7 nominations including Best Film, Best Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, Director, Original Screenplay, Casting
OSCARS: 5 nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.
Programme Type: Film
Director: Alexander Payne
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Dominic Sessa, Da’Vine Joy Randolph
Running Time: 133 minutes